The Problem Isn’t That There Aren’t Enough Christians in the World; Rather, There Are Too Many

Approximately one out of every three people on the earth today calls himself a Christian.  Is that too many…or too few?

Consider what Mahatma Ghandi said:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

That being the case, it’s doubtful that going from one out of three to two out of three is going to convince the remaining third to join in.

The qualifications for being counted as a Christian have become very watered down from what they were in biblical times.  Today, all one has to do is to say “I’m a Christian” and that ends all debate on the subject.  There may be good Christians, bad Christians, and awful Christians, but a person’s own self-description seems to be the sole and deciding criterion as to whether he is or isn’t a Christian.

The spiritual reality is that the world needs the kind of Christians that could do the reputation of Christianity some good.  Otherwise, we might as well count Christians as being pretty much like everyone else.  As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

What we need instead are Christians who act like Christ:

1 John 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

What we don’t need Christians who act like the devil:

Matthew 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

If you think that only Christians go to heaven, then you want the number of Christians to be high.  However, believing that everyone is going to heaven gives you a different perspective.  Specifically, in terms of helping the world, it’s not the number of Christians that matter – it’s their power.  For as Jonathan the son of Saul said:

1 Samuel 14:6 …the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

God Has Been Purifying a People for Himself All Along

God chose Abraham for the purpose of creating a people for Himself.

God gave Abraham many descendants so that He might have many people for Himself.  However, not all the descendants would be God’s people.  First of all, it was only the descendants of Isaac; Abraham’s descendants through Ishmael were excluded.  Then it was only the descendants of Jacob; the descendants of Esau were excluded.  This was a winnowing process, not unlike that which involved Gideon:

Judges 7:2 The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’

Fast forward to New Testament times and we see that God was purifying a people for Himself by choosing from among Jews and Gentiles (Romans 9:24; Acts 15:14) those who would willingly (i.e., voluntarily) submit themselves to God’s rule (Psalm 110:3).

Therefore, looking across both testaments we can see that God was purifying for Himself a people for His own possession:

Titus 2:14 [Christ Jesus] gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

Therefore, today the people of God are known in their entirety by Him alone (2 Timothy 2:19).  No human shepherd stands over them for they will only follow the voice of the one true Shepherd (John 10:5).  This is the continuation and consummation of a process God began long, long ago.  All along, He has been “purifying a people for His own possession.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

SL016 – The Old Testament Is About Jesus Christ

Scriptural Literacy:

Understanding the Bible –

An Ancient Text of Timeless Truths for a Modern Age

SL016 – The Old Testament Is About Jesus Christ

Our purpose in this blog and podcast is to increase our biblical literacy – that is, to become more comfortable reading the Bible.  The purpose of reading the Bible is to understand Jesus Christ – God’s revelation of Himself to the world.  Proverbs 25:2 and Jeremiah 15:19 speak of discerning the principles to be found in this ancient set of texts.  See also James 1:5 to establish that God wants to share with us His wisdom.

Review-to-Date (starts at 00:00)

I.  Introduction: The Scriptures Are About Christ (begins at 5:54)

The Scriptures Are About Christ

II.  The Old Testament Is About Christ – Part One (begins at 20:08 )

The Old Testament = the Hebrew Bible
The verses I talk about in this segment are all listed in the following post:
The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ

III.  The Old Testament Is About Christ – Part Two (begins at 43:46)

The verses I talk about in this final segment are also listed in the following post:
The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ

Total time elapsed is 1:04:23

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are to the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The God-fearing Gentiles

The apostle Paul is known for having been commissioned by Jesus to reach the Gentiles (Galatians 2:7).  However, we mustn’t think that  this meant Paul indiscriminately sought any and every Gentile he could find.  Rather, the Scripture describes Paul’s efforts as being focused on “God-fearers among the Gentiles” (Acts 17:17).  Even when Paul said to the Jews in Corinth, “From now on I shall go to the Gentiles,” (Acts 18:6), he only went next door (Acts 18:7).  And in the very next city he entered, which was Ephesus, and started at the synagogue once again (Acts 18:19) reasoning with Jews.

Does this mean that Paul was vacillating?  Hardly.  It simply indicates that Paul focused his attention on the Gentiles where he had the greatest chance of success – that is, those Gentiles who were already convinced that there was but one God, that He was righteous, and that the Jews spoke for Him.  This is what made them “God-fearers” in the eye of the Jews.  And they hung around synagogues – not around the red-light district of town.

Among both Jews and Gentiles of that age, there were those who feared God and those who didn’t.  The preaching of the gospel polarized each of these two populations, drawing those whose hearts were tender toward God to Him – hardening and repelling the rest.

The true people of God could not be determined by whether or not they were Jew or Gentile, but by whether or not they loved righteousness (Hebrews 1:9).  This is still true today.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

New Testament Elder Functions Were Limited and Temporary

Church leaders today want to claim biblical authority over you.  However, the Bible gives them none.

The term elder as used in the New Testament is synonymous with “overseer,” “bishop,” “shepherd,” and “pastor.”  (See this post for more explanation.)  These were leaders appointed by the apostles, and by subordinates of the apostles (e.g. Timothy and Titus).

1 Timothy 3:1ff and Titus 1:5ff are the two New Testament passages which give the most extensive lists of qualifications and responsibilities of church elders.  Nowhere in those lists are elders themselves authorized to appoint elders.  That is, these church elders were given no means of providing for their own succession.  This is quite understandable since the return of the Lord was expected in their lifetimes (and return He did: Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again).  Elders were being appointed because there weren’t enough apostles to keep up with the growth of disciples.  (To distinguish apostles from disciples, see this post.)  However, if the church ran low on elders, only the apostles were authorized to appoint more in order to replenish those ranks.

Elders therefore had 1) less authority than the apostles, and 2) like the apostles, had authority that was expected to soon expire (i.e. with the coming of the Lord).  For this reason, Peter included himself with the elders in anticipation of the Lord’s arrival to assume personal responsibility for His flock (1 Peter 5:1-4), and thereby relieve the apostles and elders of their respective authority (1 Corinthians 15:24 – the abolishment of all prior authority).

With such limited and temporary biblical authority for elders, it is surprising that church leaders today say that their authority over anyone is based on the Bible.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Bible Tells of a God Who Governs His Creation, Speaks, and Reveals Himself

The Bible documents that God governs His creation, speaks, and reveals Himself.  Thus God is interacting with us far more than the world realizes.

God governs His creation.  He rules and judges.  He superintends all that takes place – even when He doesn’t agree with what is taking place.  Whatever happens, our God is in control.

God speaks.  Throughout the Bible, God speaks.  Because He speaks, there is a Bible.  If He did not speak, there would be no Bible.  At least there wouldn’t be a Bible that looks anything like the one we have.

God reveals Himself through His speaking.  He does not desire to be a mystery – at least not to those who want to know Him.

If you want to know God, go to the Bible so that He might reveal Himself to you.  There you will learn of Jesus Christ – God’s great and enduring revelation of Himself to the world.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

“Walk Before Me and Be Blameless”

“Walk before Me and be blameless” is the charge God gave to Abram when He changed his name to Abraham in Genesis 17:1ff.

Abraham walked before God as he understood Him.  Abraham’s descendants were to do the same.  Of course, that understanding grew enormously with the coming of Jesus Christ.  As the apostle John said:

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Therefore, the charge to “walk before God and be blameless” carries significantly greater meaning for those living after Jesus than it did for those living before.  This is, of course, because we can see the “Me” so much more clearly in Jesus.

Even pious Jews were at first shocked by the idea that the Messiah could be crucified, because they could not see God putting up with that sort of treatment.  To put it another way, the psalmist could write “His mercy endureth forever” but wouldn’t have had the chutzah to say, “Well, sure, God would be willing to have Himself crucified by evil men” – even though, when you stop and think about it, that’s just what a “forever enduring mercy” would do.  God redefined mercy beyond limits that most human beings would consider appropriate.

Therefore, to walk before Jesus and be blameless requires much more of us than walking before a Creator God whose character and response to evil is something we have not yet fully tested.

Let us therefore walk before Jesus Christ and be blameless.  We have seen for ourselves through the pages of the Gospels just what sort of behavior He considers blameless.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

God Speaks into Chaos…and Forms Life in Its Place

In Genesis 1:2, the earth is described as “formless and void” (“waste and emptiness” in the NASB margin).  The remainder of the first two chapters of Genesis are taken up with describing how God spoke form and life into that darkness.

This is the same pattern God follows as we let His word come into our individual lives.   Our hearts are dark without Him – “formless and void,” “waste and emptiness.”  His word brings light, life, and shape to the chaos of our hearts.

Therefore, continue to hold fast His word in your heart.  Let it shape your mind and your life. Let His word performs its creative work in you.  Let it be said of you what Paul was able to say to the Thessalonians:

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

Let His word perform its creative work in you by holding it fast in your heart.  A seed must stay in the ground if it is to germinate and sprout.  In every other location it will stay dormant.

The Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3ff, Mark 4:3ff, and Luke 8:5ff) makes clear that Satan comes immediately to take out the word of God that is sown.  Failing that, Satan resists the word of God with persecution and affliction, and competes with it through worries, riches, and pleasures of this life.  Recognize that the word of God can overpower all these things – but we must keep it in the ground – that is, in our hearts. That’s where it grows.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

The Bible Documents the Fact That God Makes Promises…and Keeps Them

The Bible testifies in Genesis that God made a promise to Abraham that he would have numerous descendants – even though Abraham was aged and childless when God made the promise to him.  Exodus through Deuteronomy chronicles the multitude that his descendants had become by the time of Moses.

Genesis also testified that God promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan.  The book of Joshua documents the fulfillment of this promise.

The entire Old Testament testifies that God gave many promises regarding Messiah.  The New Testament testifies that these messianic promises were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

The prophet Joel told of God’s promise to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28-32).  The book of Acts testifies of just how abundantly God did this (in Acts 2:1-47 and throughout).

To summarize, the Bible is a record of God’s faithfulness.  It tells of things that God promised that were fulfilled.  So abundant are these testimonies that we may know with certainty that if God has promised something, He will keep that promise.

This is one of the fundamental purposes of the Bible: to make sure that we know God will keep His promises where we are concerned, because He is faithful and impartial and always keeps His promises.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Bible Documents the Fact That God Speaks

The Bible provides voluminous evidence that the Creator speaks.

The Bible testifies that God has spoken to many people in many different ways.

God speaks most to those who are most like Him.  That is, God mainly speaks to and through godly people.

Thus when Jesus came into the world, His story was not told by the heralds and historians of the great Roman empire but rather by the fellow Jews who left their occupations as fishermen, tax collectors, and such to follow Him.

To deny that God speaks to human beings means you believe that those who wrote the documents we call the Bible were lying when they said God did speak to them.  I don’t see how anyone who has read these documents in a fair-minded way can justify that conclusion.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

SL015 – Reviewing the Structure of the Bible

Scriptural Literacy:

Understanding the Bible –

An Ancient Text of Timeless Truths for a Modern Age

SL015 – Reviewing the Structure of the Bible

Our purpose in this blog and podcast is to increase our biblical literacy – that is, to become more comfortable reading the Bible.  The purpose of reading the Bible is to understand Jesus Christ – God’s revelation of Himself to the world.  Proverbs 25:2 and Jeremiah 15:19 speak of discerning the principles to be found in this ancient set of texts.  See also James 1:5 to establish that God wants to share with us His wisdom.

Understanding the structure of the Bible (OT = Old Testament, NT = New Testament):

The order of our study in these podcasts: Gospels, Psalms, Acts, Prophets, Epistles, Torah, History, Wisdom

OT: Torah (Pentateuch, Law of Moses), History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: Gospels, Acts, Epistles

OT: History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: History, Letters

Review-to-Date (starts at 00:00)

I.  The Structure of the Bible (begins at 2:21)

canon
Protestant (core canon), Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox
Jewish
Septuagint (LXX)
The order of the books
The purpose of the NT is not to replace the OT but rather to explain it
A walk through the contents
History begins each testament; a thousand years and a hundred years
The OT was written initially to guide ancient Israel but ultimately to testify to Christ; these two purposes account for contours which can confuse modern minds
Repetition in the Bible:  Deuteronomy 19:15; Philippians 3:1
Apostles and Prophets:
The apostles were chosen by Christ. They did not, and could not, appoint apostles themselves.
The apostles continued “The Jewish Mission.”
The Bible is not a magic book; it has authority because its authors did.
1 Thessalonians 2:13
The prophets and apostles came first – then the Bible (not the other way around)
The apostles and prophets lived and died as He did. Where is there another story like this?
The apostles and prophets wrote to answer the questions of their day; not the questions of ours – yet we can extract the precious from the worthless (Jeremiah 15:19)

II.  Navigating the Anthology (begins at 24:25 )

Gateways
The NT is a gateway to the OT
Gateways to the NT: GJohn, GMark, Paul’s letters
Gateways to the OT: NT quotes, Psalms, Proverbs, Genesis, Isaiah
Landing zones
underlining and highlighting; print and digital
Mark inviting gateways; the most inviting gateway is probably personal to you
The apostles have told us His name, that we might call upon it.
Practically everything we know about Jesus comes through the apostles; Christ has designed it such that we cannot get to Him except through them.  And we cannot truly get to the prophets, except through the apostles
The Bible is a collection of the writings of men of God – a collection of what they wrote
John 17:20; 2 Tim 2:7; Heb 2:1-4; John 6:29
Bible Reading Plans (BRP’s)
Daily Quiet Time (DQT)
Why are you listening to Scriptural Literacy if you are not reading the Bible?
The man who does not read the Bible is no better off than the man who cannot

III.  The Holy Spirit in Your Bible Reading (begins at 42:26 )

2 Timothy 2:7
John 16:13
2 Peter 1:12-21
Acts 8:25-35

Total time elapsed is 58:46

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are to the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

John 4:21-24

John 4:21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
John 4:22 “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

How is it that Jesus said almost 2,000 years ago that “an hour is coming and now is” that physical location would cease to be an issue for true worship of God and yet some today say that He wants people to go to a certain place and gather with certain others in order to properly worship?  I’m talking, of course, about those who say that God wants His followers to belong to a local church.

We are not sanctified by our location in a specific place or by our inclusion with a certain group, but rather by the Spirit (Romans 15:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2).  That is, “the Lord knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19) and there’s no need for your name to be on some earthly attendance list.

If you want to belong to the house of the Lord, then belong to the Lord…and you will be of His house.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

1 Chronicles 22:10 – Jesus!

1 Chronicles 22:10 continues the outline of Messiah begun in 1 Chronicles 22:9.

He shall build a house…  –  Matthew 16:18

…for My name…  –  Hebrews 1:12

…and he shall be My son and I will be his father…  –  Matthew 17:5

…and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.  –  Hebrews 1:8

God does things in the Old Testament to set a pattern so that He can do something even greater in the New Testament according to that pattern.

1 Chronicles 22:9 – Jesus!

1 Chronicles 22:9 outlines a type of Christ in the life of Solomon.

 Behold, a son will be born to you…  –  that was Jesus, born to the human race (Matthew 1:23).

…who shall be a man of rest…  –  He gave rest to all who came to Him (Matthew 11:28).  See also Jesus Our Rest.

…and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side…  –  His rest came when He was crucified and raised from the dead, far above all His enemies (Ephesians 1:19-23).

…for his name shall be Solomon…  –  Solomon comes from the same word as “peace”  (like “Shalom” or “Salem” as in Jerusalem).  Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

…and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.  –  We have righteousness, peace, and joy through Him (Romans 14:17).

Understanding the Structure of the Bible

In recent weeks of the Scriptural Literacy podcast, I’ve been breaking down the Bible into its constituent parts. That is, the books of the Bible are arranged in a certain order, and a structure can be inferred from that order.  Perceiving that structure will help us understand the different kinds (genre) of writing that comprise the Bible.  Knowing this will help you adapt your reading to the appropriate genre.  Knowing where you are in the chronology of events will help, too.

Remember that the Bible is, generally speaking, organized by chronology and genre.

Let me now review the various breakdowns – that is, the various ways of understanding the order of the Bible’s contents.

To divide the Bible into two parts:

OT: Old Testament (aka “The Prophets”)
NT: New Testament (aka “The Apostles”)

To divide the Bible into five parts:

OT: OT History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: NT History, Epistles (aka Letters)

To divide the Bible into seven parts:

OT: Torah (aka Pentateuch, Law of Moses), Post-Mosaic History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: Gospels, Acts, Epistles

To divide the Bible into nine parts:

OT: Torah, Post-Mosaic History, Wisdom, Major Prophets, Minor Prophets
NT: Gospels, Acts, Paul’s Epistles, General Epistles

Each of these is a valid, but different and increasingly more detailed, way of understanding the organization of the Bible’s contents.  The ultimate breakdown is, of course, the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament – a breakdown into sixty-six parts.

Major Biblical Metaphors

In order to help people understand the sort of relationship He wanted with them, God used certain metaphors from everyday life in the biblical age.  These include the following:

Kingdom –  wherein Christ is the king and we are the subjects.

Marriage – wherein Christ is the bridegroom and we who love Him are collectively the bride.

Covenant – which is very much like a marriage.

Yoke- which itself serves as a metaphor for marriage or covenant: two walking and working together in common cause.

Family – wherein Christ is the father and we are the sons who lovingly seek to imitate Him.

Slavery – wherein Christ is the master and we are the slaves.

What is common to all these metaphors is interaction and mutual commitment.  God does not desire to be divorced from us.  Rather, He desires faithfulness.  We seek Him because He first sought us (1 John 4:19).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Amos 3:3

Amos 3:3 KJV Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

How can we walk with the Lord except that we have an agreement with Him?  Such an agreement speaks of a covenant, which the Lord offers to all those willing.

As Jesus Himself said,

John 15:14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you.

This covenant is “the new covenant” in His blood (Luke 22:20; 2 Corinthians 3:6).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Jeremiah 3:16 – The Ark of the Covenant

Jeremiah 3:16 “It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the LORD, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again.

This scripture was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  He Himself became the ark of the covenant.  That is, the covenant was contained in Him.

Let us imitate Him.  That is, let the covenant of the Lord be secured in our hearts.  Let us be vessels for honor, carrying the truth the Lord written upon our hearts.  As Paul put it to the Corinthians:

2 Corinthians 3:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men;
2 Corinthians 3:3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God.
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Bible Is a Love Story

The Bible is a love story about God and His people.

He loves His people.  They reciprocate His love.

Who are the people of God?  [Emphasis added.]

2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His

For more on how the Scripture labels the people whom God loves, see: Scriptural Names for the People of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Psalm 102:18

Psalm 102:18 This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.

The Bible was written long ago.  It was not written to be forgotten.  Rather, it was written that it might inspire future generations to remember the works of God and turn their lives to live for Him.

Indeed this prophecy from the psalms is being fulfilled even as you read it and are inspired by it to praise the Lord.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Psalm 98:2 – Jesus Christ Was Revealed in the Sight of the Nations

Psalm 98:2 The LORD has made known His salvation;
He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth did not take place in a corner (Acts 26:26).

This is the salvation the Lord has provided for us.  It is the fate of all humanity to die, but the salvation of the Lord is that all will rise.

1 Corinthians 15:21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

The greatest empire of its time – Rome – was present and participating in these events.  Indeed, they did not take place in a corner (Acts 26:26).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

SL014 – The Books of Wisdom

Scriptural Literacy:

Understanding the Bible –

An Ancient Text of Timeless Truths for a Modern Age

SL014 – The Books of Wisdom

Our purpose in this blog and podcast is to increase our biblical literacy – that is, to become more comfortable reading the Bible.  The purpose of reading the Bible is to understand Jesus Christ – God’s revelation of Himself to the world.  Proverbs 25:2 and Jeremiah 15:19 speak of discerning the principles to be found in this ancient set of texts.  See also James 1:5 to establish that God wants to share with us His wisdom.

Understanding the structure of the Bible (OT = Old Testament, NT = New Testament):

The order of our study in these podcasts: Gospels, Psalms, Acts, Prophets, Epistles, Torah, History, Wisdom

OT: Torah (Pentateuch, Law of Moses), History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: Gospels, Acts, Epistles

OT: History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: History, Letters

Review-to-Date (starts at 00:00)

I.  Introduction to the Books of Wisdom (begins at 06:21)

Wisdom is born of reflections on history (including the books of History)
Psalm 1, 119, 103:7 and elsewhere (reflections on Torah, History, Prophets)
Two kinds of wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:18 – 3:23
James 1:5; 3:13-18
2 Timothy 3:14-15

II.  The Book of Job (begins at 22:09)

We can see what Job and the rest cannot
Structure of the book
Conclusion of the book
Seeing Christ in the book

III.  Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon (begins at 54:20)

Proverbs has 31 chapters – perfect for one a day
Ecclesiastes, my initial experience with it
Ecclesiastes 1:1, 2, 12 and the legacy of the wise Solomon
Ecclesiastes 2:18-19; 3:1-11; 4:8, 13; 5:1-2, 4-5, 7; 7:4, 27-28; 8:14; 9:17; 12:8-14
(2 Corinthians 4:8)

Total time elapsed is 1:14:33

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are to the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Zephaniah 3:13 – The Remnant

Zephaniah 3:13 “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong
And tell no lies,
Nor will a deceitful tongue
Be found in their mouths;
For they will feed and lie down
With no one to make them tremble.”

Recall also:

Romans 9:27 Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED;

Thus, if you would be numbered among the people of God – that is, the “remnant” – then “do no wrong and tell no lies.”  As Zephaniah’s fellow prophet Zechariah put it, “Speak the truth” (Zechariah 8:16).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Zephaniah 3:11

Zephaniah 3:11 “In that day you will feel no shame
Because of all your deeds
By which you have rebelled against Me;
For then I will remove from your midst
Your proud, exulting ones,
And you will never again be haughty
On My holy mountain.

These words from the prophet Zephaniah spoke of a work God was going to do, whereby He was going to purify the people of God.  Jesus spoke of this same work when He said to the chief priests and elders of Israel:

Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

Thus Jesus also said;

John 10:16 “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.

To purify Israel meant to remove those Jews who did not belong and add those Gentiles who did.  That is, the true people of God are those who live His way – be they Jew or Gentile according to the flesh.

2 Timothy 2:19 …”The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

Those among the people of God who harbor wickedness are not harbored themselves.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Zephaniah 3:10

Zephaniah 3:10 “From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia
My worshipers, My dispersed ones,
Will bring My offerings.

See how Zephaniah’s words were fulfilled in the New Testament church according to Peter’s first letter regarding God’s “dispersed ones” [emphasis added]:

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

Note also how Peter said they were “bringing offerings”:

1 Peter 2:4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,
1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Thus the apostles continually reported how the prophets words were being fulfilled through Jesus Christ.  As Paul said, the apostles were:

Acts 26:22 “…testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place;

The words of Zephaniah 3:10 were thus being fulfilled in New Testament times.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Zephaniah 3:9

Zephaniah 3:9 “For then I will give to the peoples purified lips,
That all of them may call on the name of the LORD,
To serve Him shoulder to shoulder.

Through Jesus Christ, God gave purified lips to those who love Him.  With Christ as the sacrifice, the worshipers of God were cleansed.

As the apostle John wrote:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Thus the people of God – Jew and Gentile – called upon the name of the Lord – Jesus – with purified lips.

As the prophet Isaiah had written:

Isaiah 6:5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Isaiah 6:6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs.
Isaiah 6:7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

The Lord wants those who call upon His name to do so with pure lips…and He Himself is willing to do the purifying necessary to allow that.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Two Destinies in Zephaniah 3

The destiny of the people of God as outlined in Zephaniah 3:1-7 matches that of “the earthly Jerusalem” described by Paul in Galatians 4:21-31.  The destiny of the people of God as outlined in the remainder of the chapter (Zephaniah 3:8-20) matches that of “the Jerusalem above” described in the same Galatians passage.

Note how dramatically different are the destinies of these two “cities.”  One dies, and the other lives.  One is judged, and the other is able to rejoice.

This prophecy was fulfilled in the time of Jesus.  See Matthew 21:43 where He gives warning to the religious leaders of Israel that God was making a choice in that generation.

In every age there is the false city of God, and the true city of God.  In our age there are those who pursue church versus those who pursue the kingdom of God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Seeing Jesus in Zephaniah 3:8

Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait for Me,” declares the LORD,
“For the day when I rise up as a witness.

Didn’t Jesus “rise up” from the dead?

And when Jesus rose from the dead, didn’t He do so “as a witness”?

Indeed, as for being  witness, the apostle John wrote of Him:

Revelation 1:5 …Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead…

The prophet Zephaniah wrote centuries before Christ fulfilled this prophecy.  How blessed are those who waited for it to be fulfilled!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Matthew 12:8

Matthew 12:8 “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

During the biblical age, the sabbath was a certain day of the week. However, in our age – the eternal age – the Sabbath is the age itself.  That is, we live in the eternal age which represents God’s rest from all His creative work accomplished during the biblical age.

This work that was accomplished includes not only the original creation, but also all the work of redemption accomplished through Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Son of Man, the firstborn from the dead, the firstborn of the new creation.  Thus, Jesus Christ is Lord of this eternal age.

When Jesus originally spoke the words of Matthew 12:8, He spoke them in anticipation of His coming resurrection.  That resurrection would take Him to heaven where He would fulfill Daniel 7:13-14.  Thus He is Lord of all, and His dominion is everlasting.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

SL013 – The Books of History

Scriptural Literacy:

Understanding the Bible –

An Ancient Text of Timeless Truths for a Modern Age

SL013 – The Books of History

Our purpose in this blog and podcast is to increase our biblical literacy – that is, to become more comfortable reading the Bible.  The purpose of reading the Bible is to understand Jesus Christ – God’s revelation of Himself to the world.  Proverbs 25:2 and Jeremiah 15:19 speak of discerning the principles to be found in this ancient set of texts.  See also James 1:5.

Understanding the structure of the Bible (OT = Old Testament, NT = New Testament):

The order of our study in these podcasts: Gospels, Psalms, Acts, Prophets, Epistles, Pentateuch, History, Wisdom

OT: Pentateuch (Law of Moses), History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: Gospels, Acts, Epistles

OT: History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: History, Letters

Review-to-Date (starts at 00:00)

I.  Introduction to the Books of History (begins at 06:28)

Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
Moses describes the beginnings of Israel’s history; these books continue it
There is some prophecy and wisdom in these books, and some history in those
Vocabulary: lawgiver, judge, priest, prophet, king

II.  The History of Israel (begins at 24:38)

Christianity is a religion of history
Our faith is rooted in history
Key figures: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon
The kings of Israel
Judah v Samaria
A history that is incomplete, which helps account for NT expectation of Messiah

III.  The Lessons of History (begins at 51:00)

God is v God has spoken, promised (covenant)
Mark 3:24
Hebrews 11:32-34
James 4:12
1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4
2 Chronicles 15:2
Example: Samson in Judges 16:1-3
Our Samson; The Gates of Gaza
Nehemiah 13:2
Ephesians 3:20-21

Total time elapsed is 1:09:15

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are to the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Why did Elijah go straight to heaven? Why didn’t he die first like everyone else? And why did he go there instead of Sheol?

This post is categorized as an OAQ, which stands for Occasionally Asked Question.  (Think of FAQ, but without the frequency.)

Why did Elijah go straight to heaven? Why didn’t he die first like everyone else? And why did he go there instead of Sheol?

Elijah’s last scene on earth is described enigmatically.  In that regard, it bears some similarities to Enoch’s departure (Genesis 5:24) and to that of Moses as well (Deuteronomy 34:5-6).  What distinguishes Elijah’s departure from the other two, and from all other accounts of death in the Bible except for that of Jesus, is that it says Elijah went “to heaven.” This is confusing because we know that until the resurrection of the dead, which did not occur until immediately after New Testament times, everyone went to Sheol (Hades) at death.  This was the teaching of the Old Testament.  For confirmation of this fact, see the first six chapters of The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven, or you can do your own word study on “Sheol” in the Old Testament, where it occurs over sixty times.  (Here’s a list which includes all the relevant verses.)

In John 3:13, Jesus confirmed that no one had ever gone to heaven at death.  Thus Elijah’s ascension could be considered similar to the temporary heavenly sojourn Paul described in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.  It is clear that Elijah’s experience was a foreshadowing of Messiah’s ascension in heaven – He who would be “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5).  Jesus could hardly have been “the forerunner” described in Hebrews 6:19-20; 12:1-2, going ahead of us so as to cleanse the heavens (Hebrews 9:22-25) from the defilement of “the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) unless He was the first human being to break that plane.

We may wish we knew more about this incident of Elijah’s.  However, we must be content with what the prophets have left for us in the Scripture.  In any case, it’s certain Elijah didn’t precede Jesus in taking up permanent occupancy in heaven, for if he had, there would have been no reason for Jesus to die.

 

Critical Body Parts from a Spiritual Point of View

The Bible warns us about the importance of what we say.  Over and over.

A word study worth pursuing is to focus on the body parts involved in speaking, to which the Bible makes frequent reference.  To get you started, here are some words and scriptures in which they are used:

MOUTH  –  Psalm 19:14; 34:1; 89:1; 141:3; James 3:1-12

LIPS  –  Psalm 140:3; 141:3; Proverbs 17:28

TONGUE  –  Psalm 140:3; James 3:5-12

There is no shortage of verses like these (though few as comprehensive, pointed, and forceful as James 3 – it tells us that through the tongue we can control our entire body!).  You can do this word study using a Strong’s Concordance.  Of course, there are also verses which speak to this subject that don’t make reference to a body part – such as, James 1:19.  Include those in your consideration as well, for the subject is critically important to our walk with the Lord.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

The Apostles Proclaimed the New Order That Was Replacing the Old Order

The apostles of Jesus Christ proclaimed that God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, had established a new order in creation.  This new order was in fact the beginning of the new creation God had promised through Isaiah 65:17 and Isaiah 66:22.

According to the apostles the new order was replacing the old order, which had been in place since the beginning of the original creation.  Here’s how the new order was described by an apostle as supplanting the old:

Acts 26:18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

and

Colossians 1:13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
Colossians 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Satan was the god of the old order (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  Israel knew his identity because God had revealed it.  However, the rest of the world submitted to his rule without even knowing he was there.  That’s why the world, which is his domain, is called “the domain of darkness.”  Thus Paul wrote of the nations that unwittingly served him:

Ephesians 4:17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
Ephesians 4:18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;
Ephesians 4:19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Satan has far less power today because God has triumphed over him through Christ (the victory foreseen as on the immediate horizon in Romans 16:20). Yet even in his diminished status, Satan is still able to keep many in darkness – those unwilling to give up the lusts of their flesh in order to find the truth.  It is therefore not so much Satan’s power but rather that human unwillingness which accounts for the darkness in the world today.

Knowledge of Christ the Lord and the light is the antidote to that darkness.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

There’s No Sign of Christological Controversies in the New Testament

There were controversies in New Testament times.  Even among the apostles, there were at times disagreements.  Most of them had to do with how Jewish and Gentile Christians were to behave before God and interact with each other.  The letters of Romans and Galatians deal almost exclusively with this controversy.

There were also controversies about apostolic authenticity and authority (see 2 Corinthians 10-12), immorality in the churches (see 1 Corinthians 5), marriage with unbelievers (see 1 Corinthians 7), and much more.

The one thing about which there was no apparent controversy was the identity, nature,  and position of Jesus Christ.  This is striking because there has been so much controversy in the church since apostolic times about this very subject.

It’s worth spending some time to ask yourself why there was such unanimity about Jesus in the New Testament church when we today find it so hard to attain.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Apostles Did Not Have the New Testament

The New Testament was not gathered into a collection of 27 books until after the apostles died. So, even though the apostles wrote the New Testament documents, they did not have the New Testament at their disposal to settle New Testament controversies.

The apostles had to rely on the Old Testament in order to settle New Testament controversies.  Give that some thought, would you?

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Romans 15:3 – The World’s Enmity Toward God Falls on Those Who Love Him

Romans 15:3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME.”  [quoting Psalm 69:9]

The full verse of Psalm 69:9 reads:

Psalm 69:9 For zeal for Your house has consumed me,
And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.

(Of course, there were no chapter and verse divisions when Paul was writing so it’s anachronistic to say he was only quoting “part of the verse.”)

David had written the words of Psalm 69 about a thousand years before Christ.  The words were true of David, but prophetic for Christ.  That is, if David was zealous for the house of the Lord, how much more was Christ zealous for the true and eternal house of the Lord.

Jesus was not crucified for being a carpenter or even for being a Jew.  He was crucified for telling the truth.  Because Jesus spoke for God, He inherited the enmity that people have for God.

When you speak for Christ, you will inherit that same enmity.

It’s a strange thing that people should hate God.  Especially when they think that they love Him.  Want a way to check and see if you truly love God?  Examine your life to see if you are keeping His commandments (John 14:15).  Check also to see if, as a result of keeping is commandments, anyone is reproaching you (Matthew 5:10-12).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

“Israel” in the Book of Romans

In Romans 11:26, Paul wrote that “all Israel” would be saved in the coming judgment.  To appreciate what he meant, you have to remember that he wrote previously:

 Romans 9:6 …they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel;

And to appreciate what Paul meant in Romans 9:6, you have to go back even earlier in his letter, to where he wrote:

Romans 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

The central idea here for Paul, of course, is that Christ has made the Bible a spiritual book about spiritual concepts.  To understand better this distinction, study Romans 8.  It may also help you to read this post on the critical biblical distinction between flesh and spirit.  It’s an incredibly simple, yet profoundly important distinction.

Simply put, Israel according to the flesh is what mankind sees while Israel according to the spirit is what God sees.  We should, by the way, live our lives according to what God sees (Matthew 6:1).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The “Will of God” in the Book of Romans

In Romans 2:18, Paul makes reference to the standard Jewish claim of the time (one he himself would have made both before and after his conversion to Christ) that the will of God was revealed through the Scriptures – and that the Scriptures were the province of Israel.

In Romans 12:2, Paul mentions the will of God again, this time demonstrating how Christ had brought forth the meaning of God’s will in a far more profound and enduring way than had ever been apparent through the Scriptures alone.

In Romans 2, Paul lamented about his kinsmen according to the flesh proclaiming but not actually living the will of God.   In Romans 12, Paul exhorts his kinsmen according to the spirit to indeed live out the will of God as it had been revealed through Christ.

The chapters in between 2 and 12 indicate just how the will of God was to be understood.  And it all had to do with Jesus Christ.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

SL012 – The Law of Moses

Scriptural Literacy:

Understanding the Bible –

An Ancient Text of Timeless Truths for a Modern Age

Our purpose in this blog and podcast is to increase our biblical literacy – that is, to become more comfortable reading the Bible.  The purpose of reading the Bible is to understand Jesus Christ – God’s revelation of Himself to the world.  Proverbs 25:2 and Jeremiah 15:19 speak of discerning the principles to be found in this ancient set of texts.  See also James 1:5.

Understanding the structure of the Bible (OT = Old Testament, NT = New Testament):

The order of our study in these podcasts: Gospels, Psalms, Acts, Prophets, Epistles, Pentateuch, History, Wisdom

OT: Pentateuch (Law of Moses), History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: Gospels, Acts, Epistles

OT: History, Wisdom, Prophets
NT: History, Letters

I.  Review-to-Date and Introduction to the Law of Moses (begins at 00:00)

The Law of Moses was the foundation, the cornerstone of the Bible
Like the National Archives in Washington, DC
Pentateuch (5 – like Pentagon)
Torah = teaching, instruction, law
Torah (The “T” of Tanach – TNK)
Joshua 1:7-8
Matthew 5:17-19
John 5:39-47
John 1:45
The Law of Moses was given to serve two purposes: one temporary, one eternal
1 Corinthians 9:8-10 (quoting Deuteronomy 25:4)
The Law of Moses is not necessarily the place for us to begin reading the Bible
An inviting or uninviting place to begin reading the Bible?

II.  Genesis (begins at 28:08)

The events of Genesis occurred before Moses was born
Stories, History
Our Adam
Our Seth
Our Enoch
Our Noah
Our Abraham
Our Melchizedek
Our Isaac
Our Jacob
Our Joseph

III.  Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (begins at 49:32)

Stories sprinkled through laws, regulations, and rituals
Numbers 1:46 (603,550 fighting men)
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5)
The Great Commandment (Deuteronomy 6:4)
The Second Great Commandment (Leviticus 19:18)
Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-37
Our Moses
Deuteronomy 18:15
Acts 3:17-26
John 1:17

Total time elapsed is 1:07:43

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are to the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Book of Romans

What we call “the book of Romans” is a long letter written by the apostle Paul to believers in Rome.  He wrote the letter in anticipation of visiting the recipients there (Romans 1:9-10).

Though Paul had not previously been to Rome, he knew many of the believers living there.  He addresses two dozen of them by name in the last chapter of the letter.  And it’s clear from the way he wrote that many of them were Christian leaders.  Therefore, Paul was addressing in the letter a relatively large group of people that he knew.

The primary subject of the letter is how Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians were to understand each other, their respective claims to salvation, and how they should behave toward each other as well as the surrounding world.

Chapters 1 through 11 are about navigating the Jewish-Christian divide.  Paul takes his time and patiently explains concepts about which he wrote briefly and forcefully in his letter to the Galatians.

Chapters 12 and 13 are about how Christians – whether Jew or Gentile – ought to behave.

Chapters 14 and 15 are about how Jewish and Gentile Christians should tolerate variations among each other’s spiritual practices.

Chapter 16 is comprised of personal comments, mentioning both individuals with him and individuals who would be receiving the letter.

The primary issue of the letter does not concern us today.  The principles, however, remain.  We can continue to learn from them.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible.

For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom. Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.