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A recent theology exam included questions about the teolology and methodology of the Apostles’ use of the Old Testament in the New Testament.  The candidate agreed with their Christological  goal, but had some criticisms for their methodology.  This issue is part of the controversy over Peter Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation.  His srgument in the book created quite the stir, resulting in his leaving Westminster Theological Seminary.  Enns and Bruce Waltke state their respective cases on the matter in the lastest issue of WTJ.

Good for us, Dr. Roger Nicole’s 1958 article New Testament Use of the Old Testament is now available online.  He addresses the range, authority and accuracy of the New Testament usage of the Old Testament. Dr. Nicole helps us to understand that we should not hold the New Testament authors to the standards of a doctrinal thesis.

Personally, I’m uncomfortable with criticism of how the Apostles used the Old Testament.  That is because I affirm the dual authorship of Scripture.  It is divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), and God used real people in a way that they wrote in accordance with their personality, culture and circumstances.    This means that one cannot criticize the human authors without also criticizing the Spirit of Christ who inspired them.  That same Spirit inspired the original OT Scriptures which had an original meaning and a greater fulfillment in Christ.  The OT, in addition to having an original meaning, often has a typological function.  This explains why some verses seem to be taken out of context.

But who cares what the Cavman thinks- read Dr. Nicole!

HT: Between Two Worlds

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Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

PS- the Cavman uses Logos Bible Study Software, but could use an upgrade.

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Jesus and His disciples hid from the Pharisees and Sadducees in Ephraim.  When the time for the Passover drew near, they began the long journey to Jerusalem.  It is fairly safe to assume that He spent much of his time with the disciples preparing them for ministry, teaching them truth and encouraging them.  These were the Thunderous Twelve, twelve men prepared to serve.

At long last they arrive in Bethany and the home of Lazarus and his two sisters.  A meal is prepared and Martha, as usual, is busy serving dinner.  It seems one detail had been overlooked.  The journey would obviously dirty the feet of the men.  They had just been walking the dusty roads of Palestine.  Their feet would likely be soure and the skin cracked.  Who would don the towel and cleanse the feet of the Master relieving His discomfort?  Peter perhaps?  Or at least one of the twelve, right?

Mary comes forth with some oil for His feet, very expensive oil at that, to ease the soreness of a long journey.  She offered up what was most likely a protion of her dowry in an act of loving service.  The benefit of this act extends beyond Jesus as the soothing fragrance of oil filled the house.

John in his gospel contrasts Mary with Judas, who only thought of himself though he pretended to care for the poor.  He longed for the opportunity to steal a portion of the expensive perfume’s sale price, to line his pocket with ill-gotten gain.  Though he had just spent time alone with Jesus, he completely missed the point.  He was not alone in this respect, for not on of the twelve seems to have attended to their Master’s needs.  Mary is known for her faith and love, while Judas is known for unbelief and betrayal.  Yet both were known, at this point, as followers of Jesus.

We, like the disciples, should train, prepare and study.  Too often though we fail to get our hands dirty by serving others.  We can easily deceive ourselves into thinking we are not yet ready to serve.  But note who was with Jesus during this time in the wilderness.  Judas, not Mary, was there.  All the training in the world does not make a servant.  Mary did not have the training, but had the heart of a servant.  Very little training is required to love other people, but still we can hold back.  Training is good and necessary, but let us not neglect the examples of Jesus and Mary.  Let us not think too highly of ourselves to serve others in the service of the Gospel.  Let us never forget the words of James who rightly reminds us, “so faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

[originally published in the July 1997 issue of Tabletalk Magazine (p. 37), published by Ligonier Ministries.]

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I’ve gotten some time to read my copy of The Briefing.  It is an evangelical magazine from Australia (Good Day, all).  It is refreshing to read something that is not wrapped up in the American evangelical scene. 

William Philip had a nice little article on The Dangers of Value Preaching.  It was not what I thought it would be, though that would have been a good article too.  I thought it would be on the movement, at least here, to preach moralism.  You know, how to have a better marriage, or be a better employee.  That kind of stuff.

He pondered “how could a zealous focus on expository preaching ministry lead us astray?”  He mentions three things which are all the result of our sinfulness.

“But the danger is that because we are still sinful people, we are constantly (albeit unconsciously) caught in a drift that seeks to re-orient our focus away from the divine and onto the human.”

He says this under his first area or threat.  I think this serves as the foundation for all three areas.  We are prone to drift due to our depravity.  We don’t realize we are drifting, and therefore it is all the more dangerous.  We need others to help us evaluate our preaching at times to see if we have drifted in one of these areas.

1. Drifting from Content to Form.  Here we begin to focus more on how we present truth than what the text is actually saying.  We are caught up in the art form of preaching, if that makes sense.  It does to me.  I’ve found myself doing that at times.  I was so focused on the method that I lost sight of the message.

“We can inadvertently find ourselves stepping back from the text- talking a lot about ministry, the gospel and the text before us, rather than actually spending our time in the text (and therefore on the gospel), opening it up, unwrapping it, expounding its meaning, and showing it in all its fullness and richness so that it can be taken in by the hearer, not as the words of man, but as it really is- the word of God.”

2. Drifting from the Vertical to the Horizontal.  We begin to focus more on us than on him.  We think that we are doing the ministry rather than God is ministering to us.  We forget he is present by the Spirit to cut us to the heart and bind up our wounds.  It is more than just God speaking, he is also revealing himself.  We drift to the place where we gather more information instead of encountering God (they are not mutually exclusive, but we tend to focus on the first).

3. Drifting from the Corporate to the Individual.  We lose the context of Scripture as written primarily to the people of God to think it is addressing me, not us.  Truth becomes personal.  Application becomes personal, not corporate.

“In essence, of course, this is just another expression of the general drift from a God-centered, Kingdom-oriented mentality to the man-centered, self-preoccupation that is the hallmark of our natural condition, and to wehich we constantly naturally regress if left unchecked by the correction of God’s word.  This same basic root of idolatry always puts man in the centre of the picture and pushes God to the circumference, and is behind the two shifts we have already discussed.  But in our post-enlightenment, highly individualized western culture today, it is particularly important that we realize just how easily we have become children of our age.”

One of the weaknesses of the English language is that “you” can be either singular or plural.  In Greek and Hebrew it is clear whether the singular or plural is meant.  Our sinful default is to think singular when the Bible (the Epistles in particular) thinking plural.  We need the word of God to restructure our thinking from individualism to a corporate view of Christianity.  We don’t neglect the individual need to repent from our own sins, and believe Jesus is our Salvation, but we need to spend time working out how truth is meant to be lived in community too.  Sin is relational at its core.  It is the failure to love God with all we are, and our neighbor as ourself.  So, obviously, right living is relational at its core: loving God with all we are, and our neighbor as ourself.

The weakness of the article is that it is mostly diagnosis, there is one paragraph under the heading Arresting the Drift.  I think we can arrest the drift as we deal with the content of Scripture together, and call one another back to the vertical dimension.  It is not an individual solution, but a corporate solution.  Together we respond to God’s word, encouraging one another to faithfulness in handling and applying the Scriptures.  Perhaps is this one of the reasons Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs.  Perhaps this is why Paul went out in ministry teams.  This is why Scripture teaches in the plurality of elders.  Left to ourselves we will drift.

More importantly it is God working by His Spirit among us that arrests the drift.  We cannot do it alone.  We need grace, and that grace comes as we study Scripture (and pray) in dependence on the illumination of the Spirit.  He must work in us to keep us on track.  And he does, for God is the Good Shepherd and keeps his sheep from straying.

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Leadership Journal has a new article by Tim Keller called The Gospel in All Its Forms.  In it he is addressing the tension between generations and theological movments about the content of the gospel.

BTW: in a previous post about The Reason for God I mentioned him using a Van Tillian approach.  He does not mention Van Til in The Reason for God.  He does that in his message at the Desiring God Conference in 2006, The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Post-modern World.  Keller uses an eclectic approach- some Van Til, some Lewis etc.  This fits with his notion that you must read widely to become wise.  I think there is some wisdom in that- for no one man-made apologetic style captures all the depth and substance of how the Bible does apologetics.  The Bible uses both general revelation and special revelation.  This is sure to annoy purists from any particular stream of thought.  Oh, well.

Keller has been thinking of a way to pull together both the individual and corporate, human and rest of creation aspects of the gospel.  Each generation will tend to focus on one or 2 aspects at the risk of moving into heretical territory by denying the others.  He pulls together a good quick definition of the gospel, to my thinking anyway.

If I had to put this outline in a single statement, I might do it like this: Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.

Tim Keller than moves ahead to argue that the one gospel is given in different audience appropriate forms.  This is found in Galatians.  There is one gospel, and yet the gospel to the circumcised and the gospel to the uncircumcised.  How you present the gospel will/should matter depending on the person to whom you are offering Christ as He is presented in the gospel.

Since he serves a very diverse group (both religious and non-religious) he finds he has to preach it in various ways so people will overhear him preaching it to others as well as hear him preaching it to them.  In this way, the people to whom he preaches gain a fuller understanding of the gospel as they listen in.  He does not pit these groups against one another, but unites them in a biblical gospel big enough to address both individuals and all of creation, both the kingdom of God and eternal life.

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I just signed up for a free subscription to The Briefing Magazine.  It is available to the first 500 requests by pastors in the U.S. and Canada.  I’ve never heard of it, but C. J. Mahaney brags on it so it is probably good.  A free, no-risk look.  Can’t beat that!  It will be interesting to get a more international viewpoint.

The Briefing has been Australia’s leading evangelical publication for over 20 years, and we’d love you to be a part of it. In subscribing to The Briefing you’re also supporting the ministry of Matthias Media in publishing Christian resources.

What’s in The Briefing?

  • An occasional longer article with space for reflection on the Scriptures and its bearing upon our lives (Briefing Essays).
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    Keith and Kristyn Getty (along with Stuart Townend) are among some of the best worship song writers today.  They write music that bridges the gap between traditional hymns and modern worship with what has been called “modern hymns”.

    Keith: “I don’t think of music as only teaching, but I do think that what we sing profoundly affects how we think. It profoundly affects how we feel. It affects, therefore, our emotional and our didactic relationship with God. But what we sing is for people of all ages.”

    This is what I like to hear from a musician- he senses a great need to be responsible for properly shaping the life of churches.  Music does affect us emotionally, and so should worship.  It is best to have our emotions stirred by deep truth (Edwards would call this religious affections).  The best church music stirs hearts AND minds.

    Keith: “The radical thing about a church service is that people of every age and every wealth bracket and every background come together and sing together. So we write these quasi-folk melodies that everyone can sing, and we hope there’s an enduring quality to them.”

    It is more than the “personal worship experience”, but corporate worship- adoring Christ together as the One who has brought us together in union with Himself by faith.

    Kristyn talks about how they work with pastors and theologians so they don’t go astray theologically.  What a great idea!  It also shows great humility on their part.  They are the type of songwriters we need (and there are others out there) producing music for the church to use in its times of public worship. 

    You might want to check out the rest of interview.

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