Charles Spurgeon – Divine Forgiveness Admired and Imitated

“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Colossians 3:13

O whom is this exhortation addressed? The apostle speaketh thus in the twelfth verse: “Elect of God, holy and beloved.” Here are three particulars. They are, first of all, “elect of God,” that is to say, chosen according to His eternal purpose. They are made choice ones by being thus chosen. Next, they are sanctified by the Spirit of God, and are therefore called “holy”: this holiness appertaining to their persons and their pursuits, their calling and their conversation. When the Spirit of God has fully done his work, He sheds abroad in their hearts the love of God, so that experimentally they feel themselves to be “beloved.” To abide in the love of God is the fruit of election, and the result of holiness. If any of you can with humble confidence claim these three titles, “elect of God, holy and beloved,” you are among the most favored of all mankind: of you the Father hath made a special choice, in you His Holy Spirit has wrought a special work, and you possess within your souls the special joy of living in the love of God. “Elect of God, holy and beloved”: it is as you enjoy these three things that you will find it easy to carry out the precept which is now set before you, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”

You see your example…COPY IT FOR YOURSELVES. If the Holy Spirit enables you to write according to this copy, you will have the approval of the Lord resting upon you. See how large and clear the letters! It will be no small success if you can reproduce them. “Even as Christ forgave you”; the imitation should be as exact as possible. Mark the “even,” and the “so,” and endeavor to keep touch with your gracious Lord.

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Brandon Smith – I Took a Week Off from Social Media (and Survived)

I joined Facebook in 2005, Twitter in 2009, and Instagram in 2013. I enjoy each of these social media platforms for different reasons, but one theme has stuck out to me recently: I’m least like Christ when I’m on social media. I’m more selfish, defensive, narcissistic, and proud when I’m reading or interacting with others online. Social media doesn’t make me sin in those ways, but it does provide plenty of provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14).

At the turn of the year, I made a promise to myself—I would spend less time on social media, and I would stop engaging in or starting long debates. I wrote about it first in September last year, and then tweeted a thread about it again in January of this year. Here’s the third installment, I suppose.

Ever see those 20-tweet back-and-forths or the 80-comment Facebook posts? Yeah, that was me. I’ve kept the above promises to myself by-and-large this year, but I’ve still struggled to find the balance of using social media sparingly and most importantly, wisely.

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A. W. Pink – Sanctification: Its Progress and Practice

Normal Christian experience is a progress in practical holiness. Where there is life there is growth, and even when growth ceases there is a development and maturing of what is grown, unto increasing fruitfulness or usefulness. We say “normal,” for even in the natural (which ever adumbrates the spiritual) there is such a thing as stunted growth and arrested development-alas that we so often see examples of this among the Lord’s people. Yet those very failures only emphasize the fact–testified to by every Christian conscience–that we ought to go on “from strength to strength” (Psa. 84:7), that we should be “changed into” the image of the Lord “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18), that is, from one degree of it to another. That such progress is our duty is clear from many passages: “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

It seems strange that there are those who not only repudiate in toto any such thing as “progressive sanctification,” but who are bitterly opposed to those who contend for the same, even though our contention be scripturally and soberly conducted; stranger still that those very men belong to the same denomination as John Gill. They know quite well that those whom they condemn do not advocate any refining of the old nature or spiritualizing of the old man, nor have the slightest leanings to the evil dogma of fleshly perfection. Nevertheless, they continue to misrepresent and denounce them. It is quite true that the believer possesses a sanctification which is absolute and perfect, admitting of no degrees or improvements. Yet that does not alter the fact that there is another sense in which the believer’s sanctification is a relative and imperfect one, and that the pursuit of holiness is to be his chief quest. Why confuse two totally different aspects of the subject, and refuse to recognize they both exist?!

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Michael Boling – Do Not Stretch the Truth

“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.” (Lev. 19:11)

Nestled within commands to not steal or bear false witness is a three word prohibition. It is stated in a matter of fact manner and simply – do not lie. There is no leeway provided for those so-called little white lies or an option for stretching the truth from time to time if needed. God states unequivocally that we are not to lie.

I address this issue because recently I have been the recipient of an individual stretching the truth (a.k.a. lying) in a matter that involved my actions, or in the mind of this person, my supposed inaction. Thankfully, the full truth is widely known and the falsehood that is attempting to be spread will gain no traction. Even still, it is a stark and personal reminder of the impact lying has on relationships, in this case a work relationship.

As believers, we are to have the life goal of being more and more like Jesus. After all, we do sing about such a pursuit at church and we at least make this claim when around other believers. When the rubber hits the road and the opportunity to stretch the truth (those little white lies) comes calling, we tend to give in to that temptation, thinking it has no long term impact. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Speaking the truth at all times is necessary because truth is the only option in any situation. Now mind you there are certainly ways in which we can share the truth so as to not hurt someone. A situation that comes to mind is when your spouse asks whether they look good in a certain outfit. All you husbands out there have been asked this question untold times. You know your wife wants an honest answer, but you also know saying, “Heck no honey. You look horrible” is probably not the best response. Truth can be told in a loving, positive manner. Truth can be balanced with building one another up.

With that said, there is never allowance provided in Scripture for lying. Some attempt to look at the story of Rahab, the story of the Hebrew midwives, or other instances where lying took place as evidence that lying can be conducted as long as the end justifies the means. This is quite frankly theologically incorrect and gives credence to an activity God repeatedly states as being an abomination to Him (Prov. 6:16-19; 19:9; 12:22; Rev 21:8).

Telling lies to include those aforementioned little white lies do nothing but destroy relationships both with our fellow man and with God. God makes is quite clear in Revelation 21:8 the eternal lot of those who engage in a lifestyle of lying. He states, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Notice the activities lying is include with? Murders, sexual immorality, sorcery, idolatry. It is evident lying is never a little white anything in the eyes of God.

Always tell the truth. It really is that simple. If you are tempted to lie, it must just be best to not say anything at all lest you fall into the trap of stretching the truth to fit what ultimately are carnal desires. Lying is a character trait of the enemy. He is after all the father of lies and that fatherhood is evident in the events of the Garden of Eden. Let us be people who pursue truth and who speak truth at all times. There is no other alternative for the people of God but to eschew lies.

Lying destroys. Truth builds up. What will you choose? I trust it is truth.

John MacArthur – Watching Your Spiritual Diet

Most of us have known people whose bodies have not grown or matured properly. It’s sad to encounter people with cognitive handicaps, brain damage, or other developmental obstacles that have hindered their growth. Many of them remain locked in a child-like state—others tragically don’t progress even that far.

In a similar way, some Christians remain locked in a perpetual state of spiritual infancy. However, unlike those suffering with mental handicaps, Christians struggling with arrested spiritual development have no one to blame but themselves.

All Christians are supposed to be growing in Christlikeness: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). But there is often a disconnect between Romans 8:29 and what we see happening in the church. Some Christians simply don’t grow. Spiritually they remain stunted, never becoming what God has called them to be.

Worse still, if you challenge these believers, they may deny culpability for their stunted growth and indignantly argue that they are growing—albeit at their own pace! Everybody wants to grow; it’s just that some people want to grow with no effort, and that’s where the problem lies.

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Albert Mohler – Performing Abortion is “God’s Work?” The Real Story of Christianity and Abortion

To the utter consternation of the abortion rights movement, the issue simply will not go away. Decades after they thought they had put the matter to rest with the Roe v. Wade decision, America’s conscience is more troubled than ever, and near panic appears regularly to break out among abortion activists. Such a panic is now underway, and the defenders of abortion are trotting out some of their most dishonest arguments. One of the worst is the claim that Christians have only quite recently become concerned about the sanctity of human life and the evil of abortion.

In fact, one of America’s most infamous abortion doctors, Dr. Willie Parker of Mississippi, has made such a claim in his new book, Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice. Parker, who refers to himself as a Christian, writes: “If you take anti-abortion rhetoric at face value, without knowing much about the Bible, you might assume that the antis have Scripture on their side. That’s how dominant and pervasive their righteous rhetoric has become. but they do not. The Bible does not contain the word ‘abortion’ anywhere in it.”

This is the same argument we so often confront on sexuality issues. We are told that Jesus never said anything against same-sex marriage. The disingenuous nature of this argument is fully apparent when we look to a text like Matthew 19:3-6. Jesus makes abundantly clear that God’s intention “from the beginning” is that humanity, made male and female, should united in marriage and “the two shall become one flesh.” As Jesus continued, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” That should settle the matter.

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Michael Boling – Jewish Roots of Christianity and Its Influence on the Early Church

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INTRODUCTION
Yearning for the advent of the Messiah and freedom from the constraints imposed by Roman Empire, the Jews instigated the Macabbean Revolt. This began a conflagration that would burn for many centuries to come between the Jews and those who sought to oppress them. Into this milieu of social and spiritual apprehension came Jesus Christ. His purpose was to break the spiritual bonds upon the children of Israel, as opposed to beginning the temporal deliverance they so anxiously awaited. Christ’s Gospel and His Messianic claims led to His death and the emergence of what would become the fledgling group of believers who would found the Christian Church. The establishment of the early church cannot be adequately understood independent of its Judaic roots nor its relevant Greek influences. The conflict between the early Christian church and Judaism invoked an ideological schism with Jewish culture, as many previous orthodox practices were replaced by new beliefs. Still, it was the basic Hebraic underpinnings, to include the cultural and ethnic aspects of Jewish faith that guided the early Church.

INTER-TESTAMENTAL PERIOD
The Macabbean Period from 164 B.C. to 63 B.C. was a product of a Jewish liberation movement that was instituted in response to a decree given by Antiochus IV in 167 B.C. forbidding their religious practices. This period is described by Stephen Wylen as the event which “shook the Jews out of their contentment and initiated the era of creative change that culminated in Christianity and rabbinic Judaism.” A priest from the town of Modein, Matthathias, ignited the revolt against Antiochus by killing a Hellenistic Jew who had offered a pig as a sacrifice to an idol in the streets of Modein . Matthathias’ son Judah Maccabee led the larger military campaign which resulted in the retaking of Jerusalem and the cleansing of the Temple in 164 B.C. and the institution of the festival of Hanukkah. This revolt represented a stand against outside influences upon the beliefs of the Torah observant Jews.

Hellenistic culture and a continued influence of Greek culture remained integrated into the teachings of the Pharisaic movement, eventually reaching its zenith during the time of Christ. Skarsaune notes that even the famous Jewish scholar Hillel adopted, “Greek methods of exegesis.” The influence of Hellenistic thought with its Greek philosophical foundations often clashed with the Torah observant sects of Judaism and Judaism had, as a result of the successful Macabbean insurrection, initiated a push to make disciples to Judaism. Skarsaune states that,

“The Macabbean era had created new self-confidence among the Jews, and there seems to have been an increasing flow of converts to Judaism, partly as the result of active Jewish mission…In the first century A.D., many Jews seem to have been convinced that their religion was ultimately to become the religion of all people. Accordingly Judaism had to make itself know in the language of all people: Greek.”

The influence of Greek thought greatly influenced the secular and religious atmosphere of the period preceding Christ. Greek thought had pervaded Jewish beliefs and Greek was the language used to write the New Testament. It was into this Greek world, that the early church spread its gospel message. Leo Baeck, in reference to the Apostle Paul’s encounter with God on the road to Damascus, further reiterates the Jewish missionary mindset concerning the Gentiles. He states:

“A Greek who had experienced such a vision would have reflected, talked, and mused, or spoken and written about it; he would not have heard the Jewish command: “Go – “Thou shalt go.” The Greek had no God who laid a claim on him and sent him to be his messenger. Only the Jew would be always aware that the revelation entailed the mission, that a prompt readiness to follow the way was the first sign and testimony to the faith. Paul knew now that to him had fallen the apostolate in the name of the Messiah.”

Jewish believers of the Early Church displayed the same missionary fervor that had existed in Israel prior to Christ, but this zeal passed through the added filters of a ‘Greek conditioned’ mind. In addition to this missionary fervor was the continued expectation for the Messiah to arrive on the scene. The purpose and prophetic manifestation of the Messiah varied amongst the Jews. Most desired a king appointed from God to marshal in freedom from cruelty and injustice and to conquer malevolence in the name of God. Meanwhile, the Early Christian Church viewed Christ as their Messiah, while the Jewish religious leadership continued to deny Christ as Messiah, especially since Christ never ushered in the Jewish kingdom on earth they expected.

RELIGIOUS INFLUENCE
The Early Church strongly believed in the continuity of their religious practice and they maintained their adherence to traditional Jewish religious practice and ceremonies. Explicating the Jewish custom of circumcision and its relationship to modern practitioners of Christianity, even an Orthodox Jewish theologian like Michael Wyschogrod writes:

“If the Jesus event had changed Jewish Torah obligation, then it would hardly make any sense to argue whether non-Jews required circumcision and Torah obligation. The debate concerned Gentiles; both sides agreed about the Torah obligation of Jesus-believing Jews.”

What such a statement affirms is the unequivocal relationship to Jewish practice that is decidedly prevalent in the message and actions of Jesus Christ. Trying to separate the two for the sake of New Testament belief devoid of Jewish culture is enigmatic and essentially impossible, as much of Christ’s mission was encompassed within the framework of Old Testament prophecy. Wylen notes that the “earliest Christians were loyal Jews. They would gather in the Temple porticos. They faithfully brought sacrifices to the Temple. They observed the food and purity laws of Judaism.” It was this dedication to their religious heritage which formulated much of the understanding of the Early Church and it was to this heritage that they continued to cling.

The early church was merely a gathering of Christians, a term that had been applied to the followers of Christ. The moniker of Christian was merely a description given to those who followed Christ and was not initially intended to depict a religious group separate from Judaism. Schaeffer notes that the gospel message and its adherents were not anti-Jewish. She also notes that Christianity was “embraced by Jews because…it is the fulfillment of what had been promised and handed down by faithful Jews through the centuries, therefore it is far more Jewish than Gentile.” It is interesting to note that the location where the Apostle Peter preached his Pentecost sermon was a synagogue on the Sabbath day. The Apostle Paul also taught in the synagogues when he traveled, as this was where the early church continued to gather. Author Ron Moseley substantiates this and claims that the Church remained very much a component of first century Judaism, particularly the leadership’s continued association in many Jewish affairs. There was not an instantaneous split from the synagogue and Christians peacefully coexisted with Jews in Jerusalem well into the second century.

Moseley remarks on the similarities between the structure found in the synagogue and that of the early church. “The synagogue was led by the nasi or president. Christian fellowships were led by what was called a pastor who was called a ‘president’ as late as AD 50 by such non-Jewish writers as Justin Martyr.” In addition to the nasi, there was also what was known as the chazen. The chazen were responsible for general oversight of the reading of the Law and other congregational duties within the synagogue. Moseley postulates that this is perhaps where the Church developed the function of the deacon. The chazen were also accountable for selecting seven readers each week. These readers consisted of one priest, one Levite, and five regular Israelites. Moseley suggests that it was from this example that the early church developed the concept of selecting seven good men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom. The early church also adopted the function from the synagogue of the shaliach, otherwise known as the announcer. This position developed in the early church into the position of the apostle responsible for “announcing the gospel.”

The early church consisted mostly of Jewish believers who maintained strict adherence to tradition, the keeping of the Sabbath, and the “various laws that differentiated them from non-Jews, strictly as an identification code…they did not require it for non-Jewish believers.” Continued observance of Jewish laws was of significant importance to the early church, serving as a constant reminder to them of the covenant made between themselves and God. The book of Acts is replete with references to the early church frequenting the Temple, observing the hours of prayer and observing the previously established feasts and sacrifices. The Apostle Peter developed his famous speech in Acts 2 during the feast of Pentecost. Don Finto notes that this was “not a new religion, this was Judaism fulfilled” in the eyes of the early church.

EARLY CHURCH (AD 33 TO AD 50)
The importance of Jerusalem to the early church developed from the words of Christ in Luke 24:27. The gospel was to be preached to all nations “beginning in Jerusalem.” Jerusalem continued to be the center of importance for the early church as it was still considered to be the “seat of authority” for all Jews. As the temple was the center of the Jewish worship experience and their direct link to God, this is where the early church began their ministry in response to the execution of the great commission given to them by Christ. Initially, the early church was considered as nothing more than a sect within Judaism as referenced in Acts 24:5 enabling the early church leaders to have access to Jerusalem and the Temple. Scripture speaks of the apostles having access to the Temple to worship and preach and the Apostle Paul is described as having contact with the High Priest. Jerusalem held high importance to the apostles as they considered Jerusalem and the Temple to be the starting point from which to reach the Jews and later the world with the gospel. Concerning the early Christian affinity, Skarsaune notes:

“Centrality of the Jerusalem community and its position as the “mother church” of all Christianity, as reported in Acts, is also substantiated by important evidence in Paul’s epistles. The Christian church had its decisive beginning in Jerusalem; its first doctrinal decisions were made there; its first organizational patterns were developed there; its basic self-definition was worked out there.”

The Torah and its associated writings continued to be the source from which the early church derived its theological foundations. This is especially prevalent in the writings of the Apostle Paul, who often drew upon his Pharisaic roots as he connected the ideas outlined in the Law with the teachings of Christ. Paul’s recognizes the observance of Torah Law and throughout his gospels communicates that there was nothing inappropriate with keeping the festivals and adhering to the dietary laws. However, it was not the festivals or Torah observances which provided the means of salvation. Paul was influenced heavily by the training he had received under the great Hebrew scholar and Pharisee Gamaliel and it is this lifelong understanding of Torah from which he “upheld the teachings of Jesus as well as the authority of the law and the prophets.”

The relationship between Gentile and Jewish believers was often a source of contention for the early church, as the Jewish believers faithfully held on to the observance of the festivals and the dietary regulations outlined in the Mosaic Law. In fact, the Jewish believers in Christ felt no obligation or necessity to depart from their Jewish heritage in order to follow Christ. The Apostle Paul, as well as the other leaders of the early church, looked constantly to the Torah as their source of guidance with no desire to abrogate their Jewish roots. Paul, however, understood the difference between the strict Pharisaical observance of the law and how Christ actually viewed the law. This concept is shown in Romans 8:2 when Paul describes the Torah as the “law of the spirit and the law of sin and death.” Not to negate the earlier writings, Paul nonetheless eschewed them for their rigor and failure to bring spiritual fulfillment, which he found instead through Christ. For Paul and similar members of the early church, the Torah was the source of spiritual inspiration and Christ’s expository guidance was seen as the fulfillment of the Torah.

SEEDS OF DISPUTE
The once tolerant attitude amongst the early Christian church and the Jews converted into extreme animosity following the Bar Kokhba revolt in AD 135. This event was disastrous for the Jews, as it forced them out of Jerusalem and likewise destroyed the once amicable relationship between practitioners of both Judaism and Christianity. The schism that followed resulted in the formulation of anti-Semitic literature and attitudes between the religious groups which soon developed into bitterness and distrust that lasted for centuries.

The rebellion was begun by Bar Kokhba, a ruthless military leader and Jew, who led a rebellion against the Romans between AD 132 and 135. Dan Juster notes that in the beginning stages of the Bar Kokhba rebellion, many Jewish believers followed Bar Kokhba and “sought by this means to demonstrate their loyalty to Israel.” Once Rabbi Akiba pronounced Bar Kokhba as the Messiah, the Jewish Christians remaining in Israel retracted their loyalty to the cause of the rebellion. This withdrawal of support by the Jewish Christians incensed Bar Kokhba and he massacred anyone who would not grant him total allegiance. This ranks among the most important singular events in the divide between Christianity and Judaism. Juster notes that,

“With the loss of this bridge of understanding, Church-Synagogue hostility increased. In competition, they formed their theologies in opposition to each other. Christian theological positions were adopted because they freed the Church from Jewish roots and were contrary to Jewish teaching. To the theologians of the day, there was no longer a Covenant with Israel as a nation; there was no longer a purpose for a Jewish identity.”

The schism was further exacerbated by unfulfilled prophecies, or at least the understanding by the religious groups of what should be happening. Ivor Davidson comments that for the Jews, “deliverance from Rome showed no signs of happening in the near future” and for the Christians “Jesus’ return had not yet taken place and so the faith was increasingly differentiated from its original context.” Documents such as the Epistle of Barnabas convey the growing resentment towards the Jews by the Christians and the growing willingness to “repudiate not only the mistakes but even the continuing place of Judaism as such.” Many Christian leaders in the 2nd Century began to increasingly question the reasons for remaining true to Jewish traditions or concepts at all as well as the belief that perhaps God had rejected the Jews. These viewpoints developed into what Davidson calls the “shocking traditions of Christian anti-Semitism, in which the Jews would be blamed directly for the crucifixion of the Messiah and regarded as apostates upon whom God’s judgment had justly fallen.” Those who continued to subscribe to their Jewish heritage while adhering to the teachings of Christ soon found for themselves very little room to exist in the increasingly anti-Semitic Christian community. The Jewish heritage which the Apostle Paul had once esteemed essential to the Christian walk became somehow irrelevant. The Christian writer Jerome stated that “both individuals wanted to be Jews and Christians, and in the end, they were able to be neither.”

It was the desire to separate themselves from any relation to the Jewish belief system that provided the opportunity for the formation of what became known as the Roman Catholic Church. This also contributed to the continued rejection of Judaism and the persecution of the Jewish people at many junctions throughout subsequent history. Subsequently, 2nd century Christian apologist Justin Martyr turned oppositional towards the Jews in tone so to speak and asserted that the Christians are the true Israel and the Jews are accursed. They could not, according to Justin Martyr, because of their wickedness, “discern the wisdom of their own Scriptures – in fact they had lost their Scriptures to the Christians since they cannot catch the spirit in them.” Condemnation toward the Jews by many of the 2nd century church fathers is addressed by theologian James Parkes who states:

“for the Gentile Church, the Old Testament no longer meant a way of life, a conception of the relation of a whole community to God, but a mine from which proof texts could be extracted. Instead of being the record of a single community, and the record of its successes and failures, it became the record of two communities, the pre-Incarnation Church symbolized by the Hebrew precursors of the Church and the evil and condemnations recorded could be directed toward the Jews.”

Jewish leaders, in response to the rhetoric seeping out from the early church leadership, made various claims against the validity of the Christian faith by stating that the gospels were a “revelation of sin”. They also spread slanderous stories regarding Christ’s virgin birth, claims of sorcery and that Christ’s death was deserved. Swinging to and fro, the pendulum of one side condemning the other was consequent to the ideological differences endemic within both religions, as well as the aforementioned Bar Kokhba revolt. In spite of the acrimony, there exists an ethno-cultural link between the two nonetheless.

CONCLUSION
University of Chicago professor and theologian Shirley Case states, “The debt of Christianity to Judaism is evident without further elaboration.” Christ was Jewish in physical form, in His cultural understanding, and in His worldview. He consistently expounded to His Jewish brethren, the relationship between the Old Testament prophecies and His messianic claims. The early church consisted largely of practicing Jews and many of its first converts were Jews. In addition, Torah, Writings, and Prophets, all constituted the foundation of early Christian beliefs and formed the basis from which the New Testament was founded. It is this heritage which formed the foundations of Christian doctrine as revealed in New Testament theology. Nevertheless, the formative years of the early church were wrought with growing pains and periods of persecution from both the Jews and Rome, initially spurring its remarkable growth but which, unfortunately, led to a massive schism and clash with the very foundation upon which it had been built upon – Judaism. The historical significance of the Jewish roots and the Jewish influence, both good and bad, upon Christian theology must be recognized in its entirety in order to have a proper understanding of the roots and belief systems of the Christian faith and its development through the centuries. Moreover, one cannot ignore the interspersion of Greek thought combined with Jewish theology, and the corresponding contextualization of culture which forms the basis of Christianity, since the relationship between them is undeniable.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baeck, Leo. Judaism and Christianity. New York, NY: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1958.

Cairns, Earle. Christianity Through the Centuries. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

Case, Shirley. “The Nature of Primitive Christianity”, The American Journal of Theology Vol. 17, no. 1 (1913): 66.

Davidson, Ivor. The Birth of the Church: From Jesus to Constantine. Grand Rapids, MI: BakerBooks, 2004.

Davies, Paul. “Early Christian Attitudes toward Judaism and the Jews.” Journal of Bible and Religion Vol. 13, no. 2 (1945): 82.

Finto, Don. Your People Shall Be My People. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2001.

Juster, Dan. Jewish Roots: A Foundation of Biblical Theology. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 1995.

Moseley, Ron. Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Baltimore, MD: Messianic Jewish Publishers, 1996.

Parkes, James. The Conflict of the Church and Synagogue: A Study in the Origins of Anti-Semitism. New York, NY: Meridian Books, 1961.

Schaeffer, Edith. Christianity is Jewish. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1982.

Skarsaune, Oscar. In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Wilson, Marvin. Our Father Abraham: Jewish Roots of the Christian Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989.

Wylen, Stephen. The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1996.

Wyschogrod, Michael. “A Jewish View of Christianity,” in Toward a Theological Encounter: Jewish Understanding of Christianity. New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1991.

Young, Brad. Paul the Jewish Theologian. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.

Joel Beeke – William Perkins

No Puritan was more concerned about preaching than William Perkins (1558–1602). Detesting the substitution of eloquence for the “lost art” of preaching, Perkins led a reformation of preaching. He did this in his instruction to theological students at Cambridge; in his manual on preaching, The Arte of Prophecying (Latin: 1592; English 1606), which quickly became a classic among Puritans; in advocating a “plain style” of preaching in his own pulpit; and, above all, in stressing the experimental application of predestinarian doctrines.

Joseph Pipa suggests three reasons why Perkins wrote his preaching manual. First, there was a “dearth of able preachers in Elizabethan England” (“William Perkins and the Development of Puritan Preaching.” PhD dissertation, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1985, p. 86). By 1583, only a sixth of English clergy were licensed to preach, and even in 1603 there were only half as many preachers as parishes. Second, there were gaps in the university curriculum, with particular deficiencies in theology, preaching, and spiritual direction. Third, Perkins aimed to promote a “plain” style of preaching as opposed to the ornate style of high-church Anglicans (Pipa, “William Perkins,” pp. 87–88); the latter heaped up quotations from ancient authorities, often in Greek or Latin, together with many puns, extravagant and surprising analogies, rhymes, and alliteration.

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Douglas Wilson – Decluttering Your Marriage I

INTRODUCTION:

Many of you have been married for quite a number of years now. This can be wonderful, like aging wine, but before anyone says awwww, it can also grow seriously un-wonderful, as bad spiritual habits compound with interest. Marriages can get badly cluttered, like a neglected garage, attic, or basement. And when things get cluttered, they also get people into a position where they really don’t know what to do. Where should they even start?

THE TEXT:

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).

SUMMARY OF THE TEXT:

We are going to begin with this text because it lays down some important principles for the process of decluttering any relationship, but particularly your relationship with your spouse.

Say that someone else is overtaken in a fault, whatever it is. You see a problem over there. Who should correct it? Paul first states what the qualifications are for the one undertaking the job of correcting another. He says that the task is limited to those “which are spiritual.” If you are annoyed, bothered, frustrated, exasperated, you are the one person on the planet who may not correct the problem. And the problem is that when you are qualified, you are not motivated. And when you are motivated, you are not qualified.

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Michael Boling – Yahweh: There is None Like Him

(This post was a contribution to a series by Servants of Grace on 1 Timothy)

1 Timothy 1:17, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

I love declarations in Scripture that speak to the attributes of the Lord. One such passage is 1 Timothy 1:17. In this verse, the Apostle Paul provides us a summation if you will of who it is we pledge our allegiance and what our response should be to this Elohim of Elohim.

The first description given by Paul of the Lord is He is the King of the ages. The word King is the Greek noun basileus, meaning “leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king.” What is arguably even more interesting about this term is its root word, namely basis. Basis speaks of a leader who walks or steps, revealing that the Lord is not some distant deity. Conversely, He loves and cares for His people. He sent His Son to be the Emmanuel, God with us and He sent the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in all righteousness.

Furthermore, the Lord is no fly by night ruler whose power can be usurped. He is King of the ages, ruler of all things from eternity past to eternity present. John MacArthur saliently notes that eternal “refers to the two ages in Jewish thought, the present age, and the age to come.”[1] This encompasses the fullness of time.

Next, Paul describes the Lord as immortal, a term that relates to the idea of eternality, but that also explains the Lord cannot and will not ever experience cessation of existence. As the epitome of perfection and holiness, He is not subject to the ravages of sin such as death and decay. Revelation 1:8 describes Him as who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” His rule will never know an end.

The Lord is also described here as invisible. In John 4:24 Jesus stated, “God is a spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Stephen Charnock explaining this particular attribute of the Lord when he states, “he hath nothing corporeal, no mixture of matter, not a visible substance, a bodily form…God is therefore a Spirit incapable of being seen, and infinitely incapable of being understood.”[2] Unlike the pagan elohim, the Lord is not made of wood or stone, He is the Elohim of Elohim.

Moreover, the Lord is the only Elohim. This hearkens back to the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4.  All faithful Jews would have recognized what Paul was saying when he described the Lord as the only Elohim, given the Shema was a prayer that was spoken twice daily.

Paul concludes 1 Timothy 1:17 with the only viable response to the eternal, immortal, invisible, Elohim of Elohim. As His people, we are to give him honor and glory, forever and ever. Sometimes we forget what giving honor and glory to Lord is all about. It is more than mere lip service or a “thanks to the big Guy upstairs” routine. Honor and glory speak to something far more. Thomas Lea avers, “The honor Paul gave to God involves esteem and reverence due to God because of his personal qualities of excellence. The term glory is an acknowledgment of God’s majesty and power.”[3]

This honor and glory are to be given to the Lord for all eternity. In fact, given we will be praising Him for all eternity, it might behoove us to get into practice today. This doxology should be more than just something we say as part of a ritualistic prayer or something we skim over in Scripture. Giving the Lord honor and glory should be the hallmark of our lives with all we do and say bringing praise to the Elohim of Elohim. Nothing less should be acceptable.

References:

[1] John MacArthur, 1 Timothy: MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), 33.

[2] Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005), 178, 184.

[3] Thomas Lea, The New American Commentary: I-II Timothy, Titus (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1992), 77.