Thursday, January 18, 2018

Reading the Bible with Supernatural Help

Many Christians want to know more about God yet they don't read the Bible. You cannot know God without the Bible. Yes, we have prayer, but that is our means to communicate with God and the Bible is God's way of communicating with us.

There are times we feel dry when we read the Bible, which is why we need help from the One who wrote it, God. In this video, John Piper teaches on how we can heave supernatural help as we read the Bible.

Recommended Resources:

The ESV Reader's Bible

A Peculiar Glory: How the Christian Scriptures Reveal Their Complete Truthfulness by John Piper

Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture by John Piper

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Douglas Stuart and Gordon Fee

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture by Michael Williams

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Jesus’ Baptism Shows Us To Distinguish The Trinty

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

God has always existed as the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While God is one, and the three persons are therefore inseparable, we must distinguish them, as Matthew’s report of Jesus’ baptism illustrates.

Jesus travels from his home province of Galilee to Judea to receive John’s baptism in the Jordan River. John balks at first, insisting he needs Jesus to baptize him. John protests because while he baptizes with water, he knows that Jesus the Messiah “will baptize . . . with the Holy Spirit and fire,” referring to Pentecost (v. 11). However, Jesus convinces John to baptize him, declaring, “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (v. 15). John then baptizes Jesus with water, even though Jesus has no sin and does not need to repent, unlike everyone else John baptizes. Jesus submits to baptism to identify with sinners, whom he came to rescue through his sinless life and substitutionary death.

After Jesus’ baptism, he comes out of the water, heaven opens before him, and he sees the “Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (v. 16). The invisible Holy Spirit takes on a visible form so John can witness the Father anoint his Son with the Spirit as Israel’s king and Messiah. Next the Father announces from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (v. 17). From all eternity the Father and Son have loved each other (John 17:24); now the Father proclaims his love for his Son from heaven to encourage him.

The Father’s words identify Jesus as both messianic King and humble servant who obeys the Father. While both Testaments insist there is only one living and true God, Jesus’ baptism shows we should distinguish the three divine persons: Jesus is baptized, the Father speaks from heaven, and the Spirit descends on Jesus.

We worship the one true God when we come to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. All three persons are worthy of worship, trust, and obedience, for they constitute the one God.

Adapted from the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

Monday, January 15, 2018

Book Review: Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity by Jeremiah J. Johnston

Growing up, one of the most interesting comic books that I read was the "What If...?" series from Marvel. What this series was about was taking a popular story in Marvel Comics and ask what would happen if this situation happen such instead of the original outcome. It was an interesting take on how certain stories in Marvel might have happened if some their famous stories ended differently.

Jeremiah J. Johnston does his own version of "What If...?" with Christianity in his book, Unimaginable: What Our World Would Be Like Without Christianity. Johnston serves as president of the Christian Thinkers Society and is a professor at Houston Baptist University. In this book, Johnston takes a look at what would happen if Christianity never had the impact it did on the world.

The beginning of the book discusses what the world was before Christianity. A world full of suffering and fear. As I read these chapters, it was a very historical approach to the world before Christ came. The next part of the book deals with the "What If...?" factor. What would the world look like if Christianity never happened. How people would still be in slavery, not just in their sin, but physical slavery. The world would be more influenced with the thinking of men like Adolf Hitler and more.

The final chapters of the book deal look what impact Christianity has made in the world. Jesus came so that we may the abundant life that God has blessed those who are called Children of God. Christians have made a significant impact in their world around them and have even stopped some of the great injustices of our world.

As I read this book, there were some parts I liked and others I was asking myself, "where is he going with this?" I felt there was a lot of jargon and not a lot of depth into a book that looked at what would happen if Christianity never came into the world.

Thanks Bethany House for allowing me to review this book.

Music Monday: Exiles from Seeker & Servant

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Christ's Suffering Is Different From Our Suffering

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

After encouraging his readers to suffer for doing good, Peter returns to Christ's suffering" "Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God." When Jesus calls us to suffer, he understands because he also suffered, and Peter therefore implies that Christ is our example in suffering (he states explicitly in 1 Peter 2:21).

But, more importantly, Christ's suffering is unique. First, his suffering is "once" for all time: no other sacrifices for sin are needed. Second, the most significant difference between Christians' suffering and Christ's is that is his is atoning: "Christ also suffered once for sins." Peter elaborated, "the righteous for the unrighteous." Jesus died for sinners, in this place. His death was substitutionary and is the basis upon which people become right with God. Third, because Christ's once-for-all suffering is redemptive, it brings "us to God."

Christ as Mediator of the new covenant, died in order to bridge the gulf between God and humanity. His was a redemptive death for us who were far away from God, bringing us to him.

Adapted from the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Can We Enjoy This Life?

The Bible says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15) and if anyone loves the world, they hate God (James 4:4). Does that mean we cannot enjoy things in this life such as books, movies, sports etc? Remember when the Bible mentions the world it either means the planet such as the case with John 3:16. It can also mean the world system that is against God.

We are citizens of heaven (Philippians 1:27) that is true, but that does not mean we stop from enjoying the life God has given us here while we live on earth. The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24–25)

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19).

Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

The first verse says there is nothing better than to eat, drink, and even find joy in his work. Yes, work is good. It is only hard because of the Fall. The second verse almost the same thing as if the writer is echoing what he said previously. He even adds enjoying wealth and possessions. Many think both of those are bad. They only become sin when we take more pleasure in them than God. The last verse says for men to enjoy their wives that God has given them. This also applies to women to enjoy their husbands.

James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from above. We are give thanks to God and enjoy what he has given us in this life. We can enjoy new technologies, movies, books, cars, and even when our favorite teams win. All of this is from God.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Justified In Christ, Not Our Efforts

yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified (Galatians 2:16).

We are justified through faith in Christ, not through our own efforts. We shouldn’t let anyone confuse us by saying that faith justifies people only when love and good works are added to it. If people hear that they must believe in Christ and that faith alone doesn’t justify unless love is added to it, they immediately fall from faith and think, “If faith without love doesn’t justify, then faith is empty and useless. Love alone justifies. For if faith is not formed and enhanced by love, then it’s nothing.”

In order to prove their damaging comments, my opponents point to 1 Corinthians 13:1–2: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, . . . I am nothing.” They think these verses are an impenetrable wall. But they don’t understand Paul’s teachings. We should avoid these comments as if they were poison from hell. Instead, we should conclude with Paul that we are justified by faith alone, not through faith formed by love. So we shouldn’t attribute the power of justification to something formed in us that makes us pleasing to God. We must attribute it to faith, which takes hold of Christ the Savior and keeps him in our hearts. This faith justifies us apart from love and prior to love.

We concede that we must also teach about good works and love. But we only teach these at the proper time and place—when the question deals with how we should live, not how we are justified. The question here is this: How do we become justified and receive eternal life? We answer with Paul that we are pronounced righteous through faith in Christ alone, not by our own efforts.

Adapted from Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional by Martin Luther

Music Monday: Quiet Hymns from Matthew Smith

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

How We Can Feed On The Word In 2018

Many are starting new Bible reading plans this year while others are struggling with how to really feed on the Word. Some Christians are not attending a church where Bible reading is encouraged. Others want many different ways to engage the Bible, but they just don't know how.

Brian G Hedges has 15 suggestions on how we can feed on the word:

1. Read through the Bible in a year.

2. Journal through a book of the Bible.

3. Read through a book of the Bible with the help of a study bible or commentary.

4. Read through one book of the Bible every day for a month.

5. Read through a genre of Scripture in search of a particular theme.

6. Read the Bible before meals.

7. Mark up your Bible.

8. Use a journaling Bible.

9. Write out a full book of the Bible in a journal.

10. Memorize Scripture.

11. Read a daily devotional.

12. Read a children’s Bible Storybook.

13. Watch the Bible.

14. Listen to the Bible on your smartphone.

15. Listen to expositional preaching on the Bible.

Read the entire post here.