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The garment of Christian godliness is seamless. It isn’t a patchwork of virtues sewed together and therefore just as easily pulled apart. The life that truly reflects the beauty and goodness of Jesus is unified in its display of the many, interrelated qualities that he embodied. Nowhere is this better seen than in Colossians 3:12 where Paul lists several of the characteristics of that “garment of godliness” with which we are to adorn ourselves. “...Read More

Let’s do some review.   The issue before us is why and on what grounds some are elected to salvation and eternal life and others are not. The question, then, is this: Does God elect people because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or does God elect people in order that they shall believe in Christ? Jack W. Cottrell, an Arminian, agrees that this is in fact the issue separating Calvinists and Arminians. Says Cottrell:   “The Calvinistic mi...Read More

“Most of the ground that Satan gains in the lives of Christians,” wrote Neil Anderson, “is due to unforgiveness” (Bondage Breaker, 194). I couldn’t agree more. It isn’t hard to figure out why, once we realize that unforgiveness breeds bitterness, resentment, anger, unkindness, and even despair. The apostle Paul certainly knew this, which explains his emphasis in Colossians 3:13 where he exhorts us to bear “with one another, forg...Read More

Whereas some Arminians (such as Jack Cottrell) deny the doctrine of total depravity, most affirm it and account for human free will by appealing to the concept of prevenient grace. John Wesley affirmed:   "I believe that Adam, before his fall, had such freedom of will, that he might choose either good or evil; but that, since the fall, no child of man has a natural power to choose anything that is truly good. Yet I know (and who does not?) that man has still free...Read More

In the previous lesson we looked at five myths about forgiveness that many people, sadly, embrace as truth. We now need to look at what forgiveness actually is. What does it mean and how do we do it? The apostle Paul said in our text that we are to forgive “as” the Lord has forgiven us (Col. 3:13b; cf. Eph. 4:32). The word “as” points to two things. We are to forgive “because” God forgave us. But we are also to forgive “as&rdquo...Read More

Thomas Oden (The Transforming Power of Grace [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993]) contends that “the eternal will to save may be viewed as either antecedent or consequent to the exercise of human freedom in history” (82). This Wesleyan-Arminian perspective recognizes “God’s primordial (or antecedent) benevolence, and God’s special (or consequent) benevolence. A distinction is posited between God’s antecedent will to save (voluntas antecedens, antecedent to the ...Read More

You may be tired of hearing about it, but there’s simply no escaping the centrality of love in the community of God’s people. We must consciously resist any temptation to diminish its importance or casually set it to the side simply because it’s overused and abused. I certainly understand why there is a reaction to the concept of love. I’ve seen countless instances where truth has been compromised or altogether sacrificed in the name of preservin...Read More

The Calvinistic concept of divine election proceeds on the assumption that God saves men and women in accordance with a plan formulated in eternity past. The events we see unfolding in time and history are not haphazard or chaotic, appearances notwithstanding. They are the divinely ordained means by which God is bringing this universe to its proper consummation in Jesus Christ. We would not think very highly of God if we knew him to have created all things without a clue...Read More

One undeniable thing about the New Testament is its often brutal honesty. There is no whitewashing of human weakness or the hardships of life. The apostle Paul is especially open and forthright about the struggles of being a Christian as well as the realities of existence in the church. We are not yet perfect. Heaven is still to come. Nowhere is this better seen than in Colossians 3. Paul recognizes that, notwithstanding the grace of conversion, Christians still fight a...Read More

Faith and Repentance: Gifts of God or the Fruit of Free Will?Read More

Yes, all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for our instruction and growth in Christ. No text is any more inspired than another. At the same time, some passages seem to have been written in bold print, in a different font, so to speak. They come across as if highlighted at every turn with exclamation points. One feels as if they are crying out more loudly than others, demanding our undivided attention and analysis. “Don’t simply read me,” they se...Read More

The real point of dispute between Arminians and Calvinists is not so much the nature of God and his will, but the nature of man and his. This may sound strange, for earlier I suggested that the principal area of disagreement is the basis on which God makes his elective decision. Perhaps an illustration will clarify this point. Consider the case of identical twin brothers Jerry and Ed. As much as is humanly possible they are the same in every sense: physical appearance,...Read More

“The Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it is the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed. It is the nearest thing to a manifesto that he ever uttered, for it is his own description of what he wanted his followers to be and to do” (John Stott). Introductory comments: Whereas Stott’s words are in large measure true, I’m not sure about the Sermon being the “best-known&...Read More

The translation of Colossians 3:16 in the ESV is slightly different from the NASV. According to the former, our responsibility is one of “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [y]our hearts to God.” As you can see, “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” are to be sung by Christians. Well, of course one sings them! But I don’t think that’s what this verse i...Read More

What, then, of human freedom? To answer that question we must distinguish between “free agency” and “free will.” It is simplistic and misleading to say, without qualification, “man is free” or “man is not free.” To say that man has free agency is to say he is free to do what he wants. If he wants to reject Christ, he can. If he wants to accept Christ, he can. In brief, the human will is free to choose whatever the heart des...Read More

Here again is my translation of this remarkable passage: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom by means of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing in your hearts to God with thanksgiving.” I would like to conclude our study of this text with four brief observations. First, although one can surely worship without singing, we can’t ignore the emphasis in Scripture on this expression of praise ...Read More

What is at stake in the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism is far more than a disagreement over terminology. At the heart of all this is the grace of God and how we understand it. I am not suggesting that Arminian Christians are deliberately impugning the grace of God in salvation. Nevertheless, by making election conditional upon something that man does, even if what he does is simply to repent and believe the gospel, God’s grace is seriously compromised. To...Read More

Some Christians are really good at compartmentalizing their faith. By that I mean they pick and choose when and where and in what ways their Christian values and beliefs are expressed. There are certain “sacred” arenas, so to speak, in which being a Christian is for them the “thing to do”. But there are also “secular” venues in which they check their Christianity at the door and live almost as if they know nothing of Jesus Christ. Pau...Read More

Grace is more than an attitude or disposition in the divine nature. It is surely that, but an examination of the usage of this word in Scripture reveals that grace, if thought of only as an abstract and static principle, is deprived of its deeper implications.   The grace of God, for example, is the power of God's Spirit converting the soul. It is the activity or movement of God whereby He saves and justifies the individual through faith (see esp. Rom. 3:24; 5:15...Read More

Introduction As we begin our study of the Beatitudes, we would do well to hear D. A. Carson’s warning: “Diligent readers often cherish writers and speakers who can capture a complex position in a single, polished gem of a statement. Such aphorisms (as they are called) are especially telling when they first become public. Unfortunately, once an aphorism has been widely disseminated, it is in danger of being domesticated – a trained poodle that is dragg...Read More

There is a sense in which I address this issue with a measure of reluctance and hesitation. It isn’t because I’m in doubt about what Scripture says on the subject or because I’m uncertain about my own beliefs. It has to do with the widespread misunderstandings about the nature of headship and submission. Many think that headship and submission mean that a wife must sit passively and endure the sin or the abuse of the husband, as if submission means she...Read More

These passages are not listed in order of importance or clarity, but according to the order in which they appear in Scripture.   Matthew 11:25-27   “At that time Jesus answered and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. "Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no...Read More

A.             The Poor in Spirit – 5:3 What this beatitude does not mean: ·          Jesus does not mean blessed in spirit are the poor, as if to say that material poverty is in and of itself a virtue. For if it were, “then it would be an unchristian thing for a Christian or any other person to seek to alleviate the burdens of the destitute and t...Read More

“Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col. 3:19). Although the word for “headship” does not appear in this text, it is found in the parallel passage in Ephesians 5 and thus calls for extensive comment. Perhaps the best place to begin, as I did with submission, is by dispelling the myths about the nature of biblical headship. First, husbands are never commanded to rule their wives, but to love them. The Bible never says, &ld...Read More

John 6:37-40,44,65 (see also 17:1-2,6,9,24) "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal li...Read More

A.                   The Pure in Heart - 5:8   One would be hard-pressed to identify a period in human history when people were as obsessed with their bodies, physical health, and external appearance as they are today. In a day when beautification of one’s “outer self” has become something of national hobby, purification of the “inner self” is a ...Read More

Although his comments are brief, Paul cared deeply for the welfare of the family and the relational dynamics that governed it. Having addressed both husbands and wives (Col. 3:18-19), he now turns his attention to the parent/child relationship. “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord [literally, ‘this is pleasing in the Lord’]. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:20-21). ...Read More

We now move from the Gospels and Acts to the Epistles. Romans 8:29-30 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”  1 Peter 1:1-2 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered thro...Read More

The Christian and the WorldRead More

A.             The City of Corinth: its History The history of ancient Corinth is the story of two cities. We first take note of Corinth in 146 b.c. when it was invaded by a Roman army under the leadership of L. Mummius who destroyed the city and killed or enslaved virtually the entire population. Corinth lay in ruins for more than a century until 44 b.c. when Julius Caesar saw its great potential. He gave orde...Read More

“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, ...Read More

Romans 9:6-13 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is a word of promise: ‘at this time I will come, and Sarah ...Read More

Jesus and the Old TestamentRead More

No book in the Old Testament, or for that matter in the New Testament, has been subjected to critical examination as thoroughly and often as unfairly as has the book of Daniel. The questions of authorship, date, structure, language, and especially literary genre simply cannot be ignored. The book of Daniel has for too long now been in the “critic’s den” and the mouths of these liberal lions must be firmly and finally shut.   A.   &...Read More

A.             Introduction 1:1-7 1.              Historical context 1:1-2 Several items of interest: *          The date For a solution to the apparent chronological discrepancy in 1:1, see the Introduction. *          Jehoiakim, king of Judah (Eliakim) a...Read More

A.             Greeting and Thanksgiving - 1:1-11 1.              The author - 1:1a a.              his calling: an apostle (by the will of God) "But when he describes himself as 'an apostle by the will of God,' he is not emphasizing his own obedience or response to a divine call. ...Read More

The easiest thing about praying is quitting. Giving up seems so reasonable, so easy to justify. It’s always been that way, which is why Paul wrote in Colossians 4:2, “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Persevering in prayer when no one seems to listen strikes many people as a sign of fanaticism, if not mental instability. Not long ago I received an e-mail from a friend who was facing the impending deaths of several...Read More

Romans 9:14-23 (1)   “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that my name m...Read More

Dealing With AngerRead More

Following a lengthy opening salutation in which Paul expresses his gratitude to God for the comfort and deliverance he had experienced (vv. 1-11), Paul turns immediately to a defense of his integrity and motives in his dealings with the Corinthians. The charges leveled against him by certain persons at Corinth were both varied and vicious. In 1:12-2:4 Paul responds to three false accusations which were designed to undermine his apostolic authority. A.   &...Read More

“Continue steadfastly in prayer,” writes Paul, “being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). There’s always a possibility that someone reading this passage might walk away with the idea that prayer is an anxious, troublesome, fearful endeavor. Paul’s language might easily contribute to that, were it not for the final two words of the text. Let me explain. If I were to exhort you concerning some spiritual activity and insisted, ...Read More

Romans 9:14-23 (2)   As we return to Paul’s response, one should observe that the objection raised in v. 19 is not a humble inquiry on the part of an inquisitive student of theology, as if he were simply asking "How can these things be?" It is rather an indignant declaration and arrogant protest against God in which he insists that "these things ought not to be, and if they are, God is unrighteous!" Paul's emphatic "O man" and "to God" in v. 20 assign to th...Read More

A.             Authorship: Who wrote it? First John joins Hebrews in being the only two books in the NT with no introductory announcement as to their author. It is an extremely personal letter but nowhere do we find explicit reference to its author (the author of the 2nd and 3rd epistles calls himself "the Elder"). There are, however, several clues which indicate that the author was John the Apostle who also pe...Read More

Dealing With LustRead More

A.             Nebuchadnezzar's Dream 2:1-2   1.              the dream 2:1 We face yet another issue of chronology here. If Daniel was brought to Babylon in the first year of Neb's reign and then began a three year training period (1:5), after which he served the king, how could chapter two describe events that occurred during the second y...Read More

Special Study on Church Discipline A.             Greeting and Thanksgiving - 1:1-11 B.             Paul's Defense against Unwarranted Accusations - 1:12-2:4 C.             Paul on Church Discipline - 2:5-11 1.              Pr...Read More

Two introductory issues: *          Is there a parallel between the events recorded in Daniel 3 and those of Revelation 13:11-18? *          Where is Daniel? (1) As president or chief of the wise men he may have been excluded from the state offices mentioned in vv. 2-3 (cf. 2:49). Indeed, 'none of the 'wise men', over whom Daniel had been made chief, were included in the call for ...Read More

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Col. 4:3-4). Now, wait just a minute. We all agree that God loves lost souls and wants them to hear the gospel of salvation in his Son. So why does he suspend the opening of an evangelistic door to them on the prayers of the Colossians? I’...Read More

Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in t...Read More

Introductory comments: First, some believe that 4:1-3 is more properly a conclusion to chp. 3 than an introduction to chp. 4. However, 3:28-30 is a perfectly adequate ending to the story of that chapter, even as 4:1-3 is an appropriate introduction to the narrative of chapter 4 in which God does indeed perform a 'sign for Neb in demonstrating that His kingdom and dominion are eternal (other 'signs would include the dream and its interpretation in chp. 2 and the three me...Read More

A.             Greeting and Thanksgiving - 1:1-11 B.             Paul's Defense against Unwarranted Accusations - 1:12-2:4 C.             Paul on Church Discipline - 2:5-11 D.            Paul and the Gospel of Christ - 2:12-17 1. &...Read More

Political correctness notwithstanding, Christianity is an evangelistic religion. Its aim is to proclaim the good news that there is eternal life in only one: Jesus Christ. Its aim, by the grace of God, is to bring about the deliverance of men and women out of the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light. There are some things, no doubt, for which we as Christians ought to apologize, but declaring that faith in Jesus Christ alone is essential for eternal life isn&rsqu...Read More

Let’s return to the hypothetical case of our twin brothers Jerry and Ed. For several years both brothers had been attending church with their parents, reluctantly but there nonetheless. The gospel of Jesus Christ was a message with which they were both quite familiar. Indeed, familiarity in their case truly had bred contempt, for they both despised and quietly mocked what they heard.   But then one day seemingly "out of the blue," the gospel he has for so l...Read More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 A.             The Substance of the Apostolic Message - 1:1-2 These opening verses are quite difficult grammatically. There are four clauses (with a fifth in v. 3a), each beginning with "which" (a neuter pronoun designed to express "the whole career of Jesus" [Brown], i.e., the per...Read More

Telling the TruthRead More

E.             Paul and the Ministry of the New Covenant - 3:1-18 1.              the Corinthians: Paul's commendation in New Covenant ministry - 3:1-3 Paul may well have felt somewhat awkward following his comments in 2:14-17, thinking that it sounded self-serving and boastful. Perhaps his accusers would use vv. 14-17 to say: "Well, there he goe...Read More

Introductory comments: First, we need to review the historical circumstances. Neb died in 562 b.c. after 43 years on the throne of Babylon. He was succeeded by his son Amel-Marduk who was assassinated by his brother-in-law Neriglissar (also spelled Nergal-shar-usur) after reigning only 2 years (562-60 b.c.; for more on Amel-Marduk, also called Evil-Merodach, see 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jer. 52:31-34). Neriglissar may well be the Nergalsharezer of Jer. 39:3,13, who, while an o...Read More

I.  God's Church: Its Theological Foundations 1:1-3:21 A. Prologue 1:1-2 The prologue to Ephesians contains the regular Pauline pattern in which he identifies himself, those to whom he writes, followed by greetings. We must be careful not to dismiss these opening comments as theologically vacuous or practically irrelevant. They are always rich and powerful. 1. author 1:1a In Rom. 1:1 Paul referred to himself as "an apostle by calling" or "a called apos...Read More

Perhaps the most revealing test of spirituality is our response to undeserved adversity. If we suffer because we’ve sinned, there’s nothing particularly special in yielding to it without complaint. We typically find the strength to endure with the reminder that the fault lies within. It may hurt, but there’s no one to blame but ourselves. But if one suffers unjustly and is able to avoid bitterness or resentment, that’s another thing altogether. T...Read More

Regeneration or the New Birth This obviously prompts us to ask another question. What precisely was it that the Holy Spirit did in Jerry that he did not do in Ed? What was it, if anything, that the Holy Spirit did in Jerry that elicited the appropriate response to the call issued in the gospel? The answer is regeneration. Or to use an expression that everyone today knows, Jerry was "born again." Jerry believes the gospel because there has taken place within him a radica...Read More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 A.             The Moral Test (1) - 1:5-10 B.             A Digression: God's provision and assurance of sal...Read More

Loving Your EnemiesRead More

Christians have often jokingly said that the three least appealing responsibilities they face are fasting, praying, and sharing their faith with non-believers. Sadly, though, it’s not just a joke. It’s a reality that has severely crippled the ministry of the body of Christ. Few have incorporated regular fasting into their spiritual diet (pun intended). Perhaps a few more actually pray on a regular basis, hopefully in accord with Paul’s exhortation in Co...Read More

F.             New Covenant Ministry and its Ministers: Treasure in Earthen Vessels - 4:1-15 1.              Treasure: the glory of the message - 4:1-6 a.              an open ministry - vv. 1-2 1)             steadfastnes...Read More

Introductory issues: First, is Daniel in general and this experience (Dan. 6) in particular typological of Jesus? Wisdom / prophetic powers / suffering / oppressed / condemned without justification through the activity of conspirators / den of lions = tomb (?) / both are shut with a stone and sealed / both men emerge victorious over death / etc. . . . Second, there are both similarities and contrasts between this event and the experience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed...Read More

I.               God's Church: Its Theological Foundations (the Indicative) 1:1-3:21 A.             Prologue 1:1-2 1.              author 1:1a 2.              addressees 1:1b 3.     &nbs...Read More

What are we to do when Christians clash? I’m not thinking of momentary spats or minor disagreements, but of significant divisions and conflict grounded in equally sincere convictions about what is right and wise. If you’ve been a Christian for any period of time you’ve no doubt seen it or, sadly, been embroiled in one of your own. Once again, one of the admirable things about the Bible is its often brutal honesty, its refusal to gloss over the glitches...Read More

Unfortunately, the label Hyper-Calvinist is used frequently in our day to insult or ridicule anyone who is more Calvinistic than oneself. As far as the Pelagians are concerned, semi-Pelagians are hyper-Calvinists. As far as semi-Pelagians are concerned, Arminians are hyper-Calvinists. As far as Arminians are concerned, four-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists. As far as four-point Calvinists are concerned, five-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists. Depending on where ...Read More

Be Righteous, but be Careful!: GivingRead More

G.            The New Covenant Hope - 4:16-5:10 1.              the incomparable glory of heaven - 4:16-18 2.              the incorruptible life of heaven - 5:1-5 a.              the prospect of dying - v. 1 1) &nbs...Read More

In an earlier lesson we examined 7:1-8 and the vision of the four sea beasts. Our approach in this and the subsequent lesson will be more topical in nature. We will first focus on the identity of the Ancient of Days, the Son of Man, and the angelic interpretation of Daniel's visions. In the second part of our study on Daniel 7 we will look at the relation of the Messianic kingdom to that of the fourth beast and little horn, the identity of the little horn, and the refere...Read More

I.               God's Church: Its Theological Foundations (the Indicative) 1:1-3:21 A.             Prologue 1:1-2 1.              author 1:1a 2.              addressees 1:1b 3.     &nbs...Read More

Luke describes the incident between Paul and Barnabas as a “sharp disagreement” (Acts 15:39). I don’t know, but it may have sounded something like this: “Paul! You’re being unreasonable. I know you’re a man of conviction, but for heaven’s sake ease up a bit.” “I may be unreasonable in your estimation, Barnabas, but you are showing a distinct lack of wisdom. Don’t let the fact that he’s your cousin blind ...Read More

I am providing this additional material for the benefit of those who may wish to examine in more detail the many references to “calling” in the NT.             (1)            The verb “to call” (kaleo) is used some 147x in the NT. It has a variety of meanings. ·      It is used 72x with the meaning “...Read More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 A.             The Moral Test (1) - 1:5-10 B.             A Digression: God's provision and assurance of sal...Read More

Be Righteous, but be Careful!: PrayingRead More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 A.             The Moral Test (1) - 1:5-10 B.             A Digression: God's provision and assurance of sal...Read More

G.            The New Covenant Hope - 4:16-5:10 H.            The New Covenant Message: Reconciliation - 5:11-21 1.              the motivation of his ministry - 5:11-15 In sum, it is not the commendation of men but the fear of the Lord and the constraining love of Christ which motivate and move ...Read More

In the previous study we examined the identity of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. We will now examine the interpretation of Daniel's vision as given him by the angelic mediator (7:16). However, as with the preceding lesson, instead of engaging in a verse by verse analysis, we will focus on three crucial issues. Before doing so, a brief review is in order. According to Dan. 7:7b-8, the fourth beast, respresentative of Rome, had 10 horns, among which there emerged...Read More

Indroduction to EcclesiastesRead More

I.               God's Church: Its Doctrinal Foundation (the Indicative) - 1:1-3:21 A.             Prologue 1:1-2 B.             Praise to God 1:3-14 C.             Prayer for the Saints 1:15-23 1.    ...Read More

We’ve learned much from the clash of Paul and Barnabas over Mark. But there’s one more lesson to note. It comes by way of a painful contrast. Among those listed in the concluding paragraph of Colossians is a man named Demas (Colossians 4:14). He, too, was with Paul in Rome, faithfully serving the apostle alongside of Mark, Luke, Epaphras, and others. But not for long. Is there a more painful experience than being abandoned by a friend? One struggles to find...Read More

One of the more frequently heard objections to unconditional election is that it impugns God’s justice. God is unfair and unjust, says the Arminian, if he treats people differently or bestows on some a favor that he withholds from others.   But this is surely a strange way of defining justice. Justice is that principle in virtue of which a person is given his due. To withhold from a person what he deserves or what the law demands that he receive is to act u...Read More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 III.           The Second Series of Tests - 2:28-4:6 A.             The Moral Test (3) - 2:28-3:10a John's major conc...Read More

Be Righteous, But be Careful!: FastingRead More

I.               The New Covenant Ministry: the Quality of Paul's Service - 6:1-13 A.             Paul commands - 6:1-2 Paul describes himself as a "co-worker," but with whom or with what? Options: (1) with God (based on 5:18,21); (2) with Christ (based on 5:20), (3) with the Corinthians, or (4) with other teachers, perhaps his companions at...Read More

First, with 8:1 the language of the original text in Daniel shifts back to Hebrew from Aramaic. As noted in our introductory lesson, no one is certain why the book was written in this way. The most frequently heard explanation is that those portions of Daniel dealing more directly with the destiny and experience of Israel (such as chps. 8-12) were written in Hebrew and those dealing with the Gentile nations were written in Aramaic. Second, the purpose of chp. 8 is to fi...Read More

Nothing New Under the SunRead More

I.               God's Church: Its Doctrinal Foundation (the Indicative) - 1:1-3:21 A.             Prologue 1:1-2 1.              author 1:1a 2.              addressees 1:1b 3.      ...Read More

A.            The Nature of Proverbial Literature   The Hebrew word for proverb is mashal, which referred to a comparison, whether brief or extended. Later the word was used to describe a wide variety of wise pronouncements, from a general maxim to wisecrack. The English word "proverb" derives from the Latin words pro ("for") and verba ("words"), which reflects the idea that a proverb condenses many words into...Read More

There’s a sickness in our society that has infiltrated and infected the church. I have in mind our modern obsession with superstars. Whether they be Hollywood actors, Wall Street moguls, or overpaid, egotistical athletes, they seem to fill our newspapers and dominate our headlines and have become, tragically in most cases, role models for our children. The Church is by no means immune to this infatuation with celebrity. Mega-church pastors, health-and-wealth advoc...Read More

Another objection usually follows quickly on the heels of the previous two. It is often conceded that whereas it may not be unjust of God not to save all, it is surely unloving of him at least not to try. If God is love, the Arminian argues, then he must manifest that love equally and universally. To answer this objection properly it will be necessary to discuss yet another controversial doctrine, the extent of the atonement. But our primary concern is still with electio...Read More

A.            Sentences, Clauses, and Phrases   A sentence is a grouping of words that makes complete sense. A clause is a group of words which has a verb but is only part of a sentence. For example, in the sentence, "The student is listening to what the teacher says about Greek," the italicized portion is a clause. A phrase is a group of words without a verb. In the previous example, "about Greek" is a phrase...Read More

The Threat of MaterialismRead More

A.        The Nature and Purpose of the Seven Letters   Here are the more popular views on the nature of these seven letters.   1.            Pastoral – These churches were definitely historical entities to which John was instructed to write. The most basic interpretive approach is to understand the letters as reflecting realistic, concrete circumstances existen...Read More

I.               The New Covenant Life: an Exhortation to Holiness - 6:14-7:1 [The authenticity of 6:14-7:1 and its place in the context of 2 Corinthians have been questioned. Three arguments are often used to prove that this paragraph did not originate with Paul, or at best was inserted by the apostle after the original composition of the letter: (1) the presence here of many words not found elsewher...Read More

Fun and Folly, Wisdom and WorkRead More

Introduction to the Poetic and Wisdom Books of the Old TestamentRead More

An Introduction to the Poetic and Wisdom Books of the OTRead More

We must never minimize or overlook the incredible influence in the early church of a number of courageous and faithful women. Where does one begin to list them all? I suppose we’d have to give preeminent notice to Mary, the mother of Jesus, whose remarkable faith and submission to God’s will is an example for all people, male and female, of all ages (cf. Luke 1:38). One thinks also of Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, the mother of John the Baptist. Mary and M...Read More

I’ve often heard people say that belief in the doctrine of election will diminish one’s love for the lost. Whenever I hear this, my mind turns immediately to something the apostle Paul said in Romans 9:1-5. What makes his comments especially poignant is that they appear immediately following his discussion of divine sovereignty in Romans 8:28-38 and immediately preceding a similar discussion in Romans 9:6-23. Here are Paul’s words.   “I am...Read More

1.         The English Bible   The debate over which is the best version of the English Bible still rages (see The King James Only Controversy: Can you Trust the Modern Translations? by James R. White [Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1995]). My personal preferences, in order of priority, are:   The English Standard Version – Published by Crossway Bibles (Wheaton, IL). This is the finest English translatio...Read More

The Threat of WorryRead More

It is appropriate that the first of the seven letters goes to Ephesus, for although not the titular capital of Asia (Pergamum held that honor), it was the most important political center of all. By the time the church received this letter, the city of Ephesus had grown to a population of @ 250,000. The imperial cult was present in Ephesus, as the temples of Claudius, Hadrian, Julius Caesar, Augustus, and Severus give ample testimony.   Religion and magic were hop...Read More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 III.           The Second Series of Tests - 2:28-4:6 A.             The Moral Test (3) - 2:28-3:10a 1.  &nb...Read More

Judging OthersRead More

L.             New Covenant Stewardship - 8:1-9:15 The historical background to the Jerusalem Collection: See 1 Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 15:25-27. Ralph Martin gives this explanation for the causes of poverty in Jerusalem: "It may be the church had grown in size, and with increasing numbers of widows to care for, the relief fund was overburdened (cf. Acts 6:1-7). We know that elderly Jewish families migrated to the ...Read More

Introduction: A brief overview of the nature and role of angels in the book of Daniel. 3:28 *          angels obey God, being sent to fulfill his purposes *          this 'angel (pre-incarnate Son of God?) is unaffected by fire and has the power to protect humans from fire 4:13 *          these are called 'watchers and 'holy ones *...Read More

Eternity in Our HeartsRead More

God's Church: Its Theological Foundations (the Indicative) 1:1-3:21 A.             Prologue 1:1-2 B.             Praise 1:3-14 C.             Prayer 1:15-23 D.            Our Salvation 2:1-22 1.       ...Read More

"The book of Job," wrote Heinrich Heine, "is the Song of Songs of skepticism, and in it terrifying serpents hiss their eternal question: Why?" Why do we ask "why" upon reading the book of Job? Simply because what happened to Job and what happens to so many of us seems so utterly inconsistent with what we know to be true of God. If God is good and great, as we believe He is, how can He stand idly by and permit a righteous man like Job to suffer so horribly? This is a book...Read More

The question is often phrased with brutal honesty: “If the spiritual destiny of all people is fixed and certain from eternity past, why preach, why pray?” I want to begin my answer to this question with the reminder of how the apostle Paul repeatedly speaks with perfect ease of both sovereign election and prayer for successful evangelistic outreach. Divine sovereignty does not preempt prayer, nor does prayer render God’s choice contingent. The God who ...Read More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 III.           The Second Series of Tests - 2:28-4:6 A.             The Moral Test (3) - 2:28-3:10a B.  &nb...Read More

  A.            God: the Creator   1.             the cosmos (3:19-20; 8:22-31)   2.             mankind (14:31; 20:12; 22:2; 29:13)   3.             history (8:22)   B.      &...Read More

Perseverance in PrayerRead More

L.             New Covenant Stewardship - 8:1-9:15 1.              the example of the Christians in Macedonia - 8:1-5 2.              the effect on the Christians in Corinth - 8:6-7 3.              the model for Chris...Read More

Worship and WealthRead More

God's Church: Its Theological Foundations (the Indicative) 1:1-3:21 A.  Prologue 1:1-2 B.  Praise 1:3-14 C.  Prayer 1:15-23 D.            Our Salvation 2:1-22 1.   its individual implications 2:1-10 2.   its corporate implications 2:11-22 E.  The Mystery 3:1-21 Before we examine this prayer in its details, let's survey its overall message. Paul prays for several things...Read More

As we turn our attention to chapter two, I must reiterate an important point: Job's sufferings are not the result of Job's sins. It should be noted, however, that not everyone agrees with this. For example, Frederick K. C. Price, a popular author and spokesman for the Word of Faith / Prosperity gospel, insists that Job suffered because he sinned. It was Job, says Price, not God, who lowered the hedge around himself (1:10). "As long as Job walked in faith, the wall --- th...Read More

Divine Election: How and Why does God Choose? Part OneRead More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 III.           The Second Series of Tests - 2:28-4:6 A.             The Moral Test (3) - 2:28-3:10a B.  &nb...Read More

“Pride is the worst viper that is in the heart; it is the first sin that ever entered into the universe, and it lies lowest of all in the foundation of the whole building of sin, and is the most secret, deceitful and unsearchable in its ways of working, of any lusts whatsoever; it is ready to mix with everything; and nothing is so hateful to God, and contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, or of so dangerous consequence; and there is no one sin that does so much let ...Read More

A straight sail from the island of Patmos of some 60 miles brings one to the port of Ephesus at the mouth of the river Cayster. Traveling up coast some 35 miles almost due north of Ephesus is the city of Smyrna (population @ 100,000). It is the only one of the 7 cities still in existence today: modern Izmir in western Turkey.   Smyrna was a proud and beautiful city and regarded itself as the “pride of Asia.” An inscription on coins describes the city ...Read More

M.           Paul's Defense of his Apostolic Authority - 10:1-13:14 1.              obedience and discipline - 10:1-6 a.              appeal - vv. 1-2 1)             prelude - v. 1 Here Paul is responding to criticisms (1) of his p...Read More

Chapters 11-12 contain a vision communicated to Daniel by the angel Gabriel (11:2-12:3) as well as the latter's final instructions to him (12:4-13). The best way to proceed through the difficult 11th chapter is by reading the text with appropriate identifications of the principal figures involved. All are agreed that chapter 11 begins with a reference to the Persian kings who followed Cyrus, extends through Alexander the Great and his successors, and then provides a deta...Read More

Council for the ConfusedRead More

In his book, Disappointment with God, Phillip Yancey tells the story of Richard, whose struggles in life and the confusion they produced are not as uncommon as we might think. Richard was converted to Christ while in college. Not long after that, his parents announced they were getting a divorce. Notwithstanding Richard's fervent prayers for the preservation of their marriage, they split. This was his first experience of feeling let down by God. Every decision he made i...Read More

Divine Election: How and Why does God Choose? Part TwoRead More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 III.           The Second Series of Tests - 2:28-4:6 IV.          The Third Series of Tests - 4:7-5:17 Stott summarizes the thrust o...Read More

Each Greek verb has five essential elements: Person, Number, Tense, Mood, Voice. Here we will focus only on the more important issues relating to the latter three.   A.        Tense   In Greek, unlike English, tense primarily portrays the kind of action from the viewpoint of the author, not the time of action. Only the future tense in Greek is concerned primarily with time. When we talk about the time of action, we mean ac...Read More

Proverbs 17:12 issues this warning: "Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly!" This being the case, we would do well to identify the fool and his characteristics.   A.            The Naive Person   This is the simpleton, the least harmful of the three categories of the "foolish" person described in Proverbs. These are the "Charlie Brown's" of the world. They are marked ...Read More

The Golde Rule and the Golden GateRead More

If the Ephesian church was guilty of elevating truth above love, the church at Pergamum had elevated love above truth. Their commitment to love and tolerance had apparently degenerated into a weak sentimentality that threatened the theological purity of the church.   Pergamum, with a population of @ 190,000, was about 65 miles due north of Smyrna and exceeded its southern neighbor in love for and loyalty to the emperor. Pergamum was the capital city of the Roman ...Read More

John Hick is perhaps the most famous religious pluralist in the world today. Professing to have once been an evangelical, Hick is now vocal and prolific in his denial of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Hick contends that in spite of differences in language, culture, concepts, and liturgical actions, basically the same thing is occurring in all religions, namely,   "Human beings coming together within the framework of an ancient and highly developed tradition to o...Read More

M.           Paul's Defense of his Apostolic Authority - 10:1-13:14 1.              Obedience and Discipline - 10:1-6 2.              Personal Obedience and Apostolic Commission - 10:7-18 3.              An Appeal for Acceptanc...Read More

Apocalyptic and the Literary Genre of DanielRead More

The Perils of Reading ProvidenceRead More

A.  Walking worthy of our calling 4:1-5:21   1. in unity 4:1-16 2.  in holiness 4:17-32 Following his emphasis on both the unity and diversity within the body of Christ and how the many gifts of the Spirit serve each end, Paul now turns to describe the moral features of a life that is worthy of the calling with which we have been called. He will first lay out the foundation for such a life (vv. 17-24) and then its many features (vv. 25-32). a.  i...Read More

All of us join in affirming both the goodness and greatness of God. But that does not mean we are able to explain everything that our good and great God either causes or permits. Whether it is a terrorist bomb that destroys innocent human life or the swindling of the elderly or the diagnosis of cancer in a single mom, much in our world is beyond our ability to understand. One author put it this way: "Unfairness is no easier for us to swallow today than it was for Job th...Read More

It wasn’t until the year 2000, when I joined an Anglican church in Wheaton, Illinois, that I was exposed on a consistent basis to the public reading of Scripture. In the churches where I had formerly been a member or had served on the pastoral staff (Southern Baptist, independent Bible church, Vineyard), the only biblical text read aloud was the one on which the sermon was based. Not being accustomed to anything remotely liturgical, it took some getting used to. B...Read More

I.               Introduction: The Apostolic Message - 1:1-4 II.             The First Series of Tests - 1:5-2:27 III.           The Second Series of Tests - 2:28-4:6 IV.          The Third Series of Tests - 4:7-5:17 A.    &nb...Read More

It is both the privilege and responsibility of every Christian to interpret the Bible for himself/herself. This principle of private interpretation, based on the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, was articulated by Martin Luther in the 16th century. The response of the Roman Catholic Church was as follows: "To check unbridled spirits it [the Council of Trent] decrees that no one, relying on his own judgment shall in matters of faith and morals pertaining to t...Read More

Words (speech) in the book of ProverbsRead More

Hypocricy and False ProphetsRead More

Thyatira was the least known, least remarkable, and least important of the seven cities to receive a letter from the Lord. Yet the letter addressed to it is the longest and most difficult to interpret. The obscurity of the letter and the enigmatic character of certain words and phrases are largely due to the fact that background information on the history of Thyatira, specifically the cultural conditions and circumstances in the first century, is almost wholly lacking. I...Read More

M.           Paul's Defense of his Apostolic Authority - 10:1-13:14 1.              Obedience and Discipline - 10:1-6 2.              Personal Obedience and Apostolic Commission - 10:7-18 3.              An Appeal for Acceptanc...Read More

Bibliography for the study of the book of DanielRead More

The Conclision of the MatterRead More

II.             God's Church: its Practical Responsibilities (the Imperative) 4:1-6:20 A.             Walking Worthy 4:1-5:21 1.              in unity 4:1-16 a.              unity of being 4:1-6 b.    ...Read More

Bildad's First Speech (Job 8) A.            Bildad proclaims God's justice - 8:1-7 By referring to Job's words as a "blustering wind" (v. 2), Bildad is not mocking them for their emptiness but is acknowledging them to be powerfully persuasive and devastating to his opponent's arguments. "Your words," Job, "are like a powerful tornado, threatening to uproot and destroy cherished beliefs about God and the moral order...Read More

“I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you” (Colossians 4:18). With these three terse comments, Paul brings his letter to the Colossians to a close. And with them we come to the 100th and last of our meditations on what he has said. Paul’s custom was to dictate his letters to an amanuensis or secretary, perhaps in this case, Tychicus (see Romans 16:22 where Tertius identifies himself as the one who “wro...Read More

(Inclusion in this list does not necessarily entail complete endorsement. Those volumes that I recommend for purchase are marked with an *.) Barker, G. W. 1 John, 2 John, 3 John. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 12. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981. This is an evangelical and conservative treatment of the Johannine epistles that is designed for those without a knowledge of Greek. It tends to be too brief at times. Boice, James Montgomery. The Epistles of John. Grand...Read More

One of the most important questions to be asked in the exegetical process is: What historical and cultural factors lie behind the writing of this text? Grant Osborne explains: "Since Christianity is a historical religion, the interpreter must recognize that an understanding of the history and culture within which the passage was produced is an indispensable tool for uncovering the meaning of that passage. History is the diachronic aspect, relating to the milieu within w...Read More

[This bibliography contains only the more helpful commentaries on Proverbs and ones with which I am personally familiar. I have placed an * after those books that I would recommend you purchase.]                       Alden, Robert L. Proverbs: A Commentary on an Ancient Book of Timeless Advice. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983.        &nb...Read More

Jesus on Jesus and The People on JesusRead More

Try to envision the scene at a typical funeral with its sprays of flowers, and bright, vivid colors, all of which is designed (at least in part) to divert one’s attention from the dark reality of death. The church at Sardis was like a beautifully adorned corpse in a funeral parlor, lavishly decked out in the splendor and fragrance of the most exquisite floral arrangement, set against the background of flowing drapery and soft, but enlivening music. Yet all are awar...Read More

The true church of Jesus Christ "subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him" (CC, 816). This is because: "it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord ...Read More

“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly,...Read More

In this study and the one to follow I want to identify and then respond to the six most frequently used arguments in defense of cessationism. If you are not familiar with that word it refers to the doctrine that certain spiritual gifts, typically (and mistakenly) those referred to as “miraculous” in nature (such as healing, prophecy, tongues, miracles, word of knowledge, etc.) ceased or were withdrawn by God from the church at the close of the first century o...Read More

One could make a strong case that the letters to Smyrna and Philadelphia are the most important ones of the seven, for in neither of them do we find one word of complaint. They both receive unqualified praise and approval. These, then, are truly churches of which Christ heartily approves. V. 7 Here we find a four-fold description of Jesus, again taken from the visionary portrait of him in chapter one. First, he is called The Holy One – An unmista...Read More

2 John [James Burnham, author of Suicide of the West, once wrote: "As a rule it is not the several values to which a man adheres that reveal most about his character and conduct, but rather the order of priority in which the values are arranged" (159). Christians are often faced with a tension between commitment to the truth and commitment to love. It sometimes seems as if we cannot pursue one without sacrificing the other. Is that true? If so, which has p...Read More

Lexical Analysis (How to do a Word Study with a minimal knowledge of Greek)Read More

Bibliography Of The Sermon on the MountRead More

Fear of God In the Bible in general: Gen. 22:1; 42:18; Job 1:8-9; Ex. 1:17,21; Gen. 28:17; Ex. 3:6; 20:20;2 Sam. 6:9; Neh. 1:11; Eccles. 12:13-14; Deut. 6:1-2,24; 8:6; Pss. 112:1; 119:63; Malachi 3:5; Lev. 19:11-14; 25:17,35-36,43; Deut.10:12,20; 13:4; Pss. 25:12-15; 33:18; 103:11,13,17; 145:19; Deut. 14:23; 17:18-19; Ps. 34:11. In Proverbs in particular: Prov. 1:7,29; 2:4-5; 3:7; 8:13; 9:10; 14:26; 15:16,33; 16:6; 22:4 Peer Pressure / Teenagers Prov. ...Read More

Most people come to the concluding five chapters of Job with great anticipation. Having endured the seemingly endless cycle of repetitive speeches, the time has finally come for God to speak. Now that Job has endured indescribable suffering, now that his three friends and Elihu have had their say, what might one expect God to say? Amazingly, all the things one might think God would say are nowhere to be found. Let's begin by noting what God does not say to Job. (...Read More

[This bibliography contains only the more helpful commentaries on Ecclesiastes and ones with which I am personally familiar. I have placed an * after those books that I would recommend you purchase.]                   Bridges, Charles. A Commentary on Ecclesiastes. Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 1981 [1860].             ...Read More

M.           Paul's Defense of his Apostolic Authority - 10:1-13:14 1.              Obedience and Discipline - 10:1-6 2.              Personal Obedience and Apostolic Commission - 10:7-18 3.              An Appeal for Acceptanc...Read More

3.         The third argument for cessationism pertains to the alleged negative assessment given by many to the nature, purpose and impact of signs, wonders and miracles in the NT. I had been taught and believed that it was an indication of spiritual immaturity to seek signs in any sense, that it was a weak faith, born of theological ignorance, that prayed for healing or a demonstration of divine power. Some are even more pointed i...Read More

I have placed an asterisk (*) after those commentaries that I recommend most highly.] Barnett, Paul. The Message of 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness (Bible Speaks Today series). Downers Grove: IVP, 1988. ______. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997.* Barrett, C. K. A Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1973. Belleville, Linda L. 2 Corinthians (IVP New Test...Read More

A Brief Annotated Bibliography of EphesiansRead More

The courier who had been entrusted by the apostle John with the seven letters to the seven churches neared his journey’s end. Having embarked from the island of Patmos with the book of Revelation securely tucked away in his messenger’s pouch, he would have begun his travel along the circular route by first visiting Ephesus. Moving northward he would pass through the cities of Smyrna and Pergamum, at which point, turning southeast, his journey would lead him t...Read More