Pilot Class Through Ligonier Connect

I’m looking at the possibility of facilitating a couple of short online courses for a ministry using Ligonier Connect, but before I “officially” offer this to a wider audience, I’d like to test it with a few people. I’m specifically looking at courses on the Doctrine of Scripture and the Doctrine of the Trinity.

Each class takes about 10 hours to complete and can be done at your own pace; includes watching videos, some reading, and online discussion. If you would be interested in taking these courses online through my “school”, and would be willing to pay a small fee to cover the subscription cost ($5), please contact me here or email me at brotherdougsmith [at] gmail [dot] com (I will contact you back and let you know how we can make arrangements for future communication and payment).  

I have a few people signed up already and plan to start the class on Monday, February 8 and offer 30 days in which to complete all the steps for one or both classes (no extra charge to complete both).

Here are links to the descriptions of the two:

Doctrine of Scripture

Doctrine of the Trinity

Top Ten Apps for the Bible Classroom & Bible Study

Here are some helpful mobile & computer apps for studying, teaching, & applying the Bible, whether in a Christian school, college, seminary, or Sunday school setting.  I have focused primarily on Android, iOS, and PC programs or web apps, but a few of these may also be available in the Windows store and for the Kindle Fire as well (worth a search if any pique your interest!).

  1. Bible  Android  iOS  Computer  This app has been around a while and has gotten better and better.  You can read and listen to the Bible in multiple translations, choose from many reading plans, write and share your notes on Scripture, create graphics with verses, and utilize their account system to connect with others in a social network (there may be great potential here for discussions for a class, especially through the week).

  2. HCSB Study Bible iOS app  This app stands out because it an excellent digital version of the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible.  It has helpful study resources and is the only study Bible I know that lets you choose the translation you prefer to have with those study notes.  Even though it is an HCSB Bible, it will let you switch out the text, for example, to the ESV or the KJV.

  3. Logos   Android   iOS   Computer  Logos provides many Bible study materials digitally, including some for free.  It’s worth creating an account to check out what they have, and if you already have Logos software from a few years ago (or Libronix), you can connect your account and get all the resources on those CDs digitally.  I remember having to contact the company each time I got a new computer, but their account system now lets you easily access your digital library across multiple computers and mobile devices. 

  4. Glo Bible   iOS   Computer  $35 gives you access to some beautiful maps, 3D tours and other study resources that help augment teaching the Bible.  I especially like giving a tour of the tabernacle with my computer hooked up to an HDTV.

  5. Prayermate   Android   iOS   Prayermate is a great catalyst for prayer.  After a little setup, it is a simple app that  is ready to help guide your prayer plan each day.  Highly customizable, it lets you choose from a variety of Biblical prayers and other prompts and guides.  I am especially glad it includes a way to import the Psalms of the Day approach that Dr. Don Whitney promotes to help Christians pray the Bible.
  6. Scripture Typer  Android   iOS  Computer   An innovative and fun way to memorize Scripture (really!).  The free version may provide enough functionality for most folks, but the paid version may be worth considering, especially when one considers all the spiritual benefits that come from knowing God’s Word well enough to treasure it up in our hearts.
  7. Sermonaudio   Android   iOS   Computer  This site provides access to over 1 million sermons from conservative preachers.  There are many viewpoints represented among these Bible believing pastors and evangelists, but there are many helpful messages if you know who/what you are looking for.  One can easily find a particular preacher if he is there, and one can also search for a message from a particular book or passage.  Chromecast support is a big plus too!
  8. Biblescreen   Android   iOS   Computer   Beautiful still and animated graphics with verses (some with spoken words and music too).   A great backdrop before/after class or in the hall.

  9. BibleArc   Android   iOS   Computer   For the serious student, this is an approach to studying the Bible that really helps you observe the text and see the relationships between the propositions, understanding the flow of the argument, and finding the main point.  This is a discipline well worth learning, and the Bible arcing method helps one slow down and see these connections.  The apps and site are helpful ways to do the arcing/diagramming neatly, and allows the creation and saving of one’s work for a nominal monthly fee.

  10. Grace to You, Truth for Life, Ligonier Ministries  This is a three way toss up – each of these ministries have excellent website and ways to freely or affordably access content such as sermons, conference messages, and teaching series.  They also have apps for iOS & Android developed by Subsplash Consulting, and are very user friendly and have Chromecast support.  (Alternative for Android to access media from many ministries:  Pocket Casts, which supports video casting as well as audio; For iOS, the stock Podcast app.)

I hope you find this list helpful.  What apps have you found that help you better learn or present the Bible to others?

Ligonier Connect Course on Abortion Now Permanently Free

Let this sink in: In 43 years, at least 58 million helpless American persons have had their lives snuffed out, with the sanction of our government. Ligonier is making their course on this topic permanently free.

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/abortion-ligonier-connect-free/

Also, during the month of January 2016, Sproul’s book on the topic is free:

http://www.ligonier.org/blog/abortion-rational-look-emotional-issue-free-ebook/

Book Review: Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

NTOTG. K. Beale & D. A. Carson, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007.  Jacketed Hardcover, 1239 pp.

Purchase links (affiliate):
WTS (hardcover)
Amazon (hardcover)
Amazon (Kindle)

DESCRIPTION

The Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (CNTUOT) is not a commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament in the sense of, “This is how the NT writers used the OT, and now we will talk about a method to use for interpreting the OT today.”  This work is, however, about specific ways that specific OT references were used by specific NT writers in their specific contexts.  The purpose of the book is not to “survey contemporary debates over the use of the OT in the NT,” but to provide a “reasonably comprehensive survey of all the textual evidence,” examining the New Testament context of the quotation or probable allusion, the Old Testament context from which it is drawn, how it was handled in Second Temple Judaism or early Judaism, textual factors such as manuscript traditions, how the New Testament employed the Old Testament in the specific example being considered, and the theological use to which the quotation or allusion is put (xxiii-xv).

The book aims to show the flexibility and variety of ways in which NT authors used the OT, the way they applied Scripture to Jesus and the church, the interpretive difference between the NT writers and Jewish contemporaries who rejected the Messiah, the question as to whether a writer used a text to expound a teaching from the OT or whether he used the OT to confirm or justify Christian experience, and that an eclectic grammatical-historical method can be used to assess the use of the OT in the NT, with the caveat that NT authors would have looked at Scripture differently than “any of the dominant historical-critical orthodoxies of the last century and a half” (xxvi-xxviii).

G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson have edited the contributions of 18 biblical scholars (including themselves) into this large reference work.  Besides the editors, the writing team is comprised of Peter Balla (2 Corinthians), Craig Blomberg (Matthew), Roy Ciampa (1 Corinthians), George Guthrie (Hebrews), Andreas Kostenberger (John), I. Howard Marshall (Acts), Sean McDonough (Revelation), David Pao (Luke), Brian Rosner (1 Corinthians), Eckhard Schnabel (Luke), Mark Seifrid (Romans), Moises Silva (Galatians, Philippians), Frank Thielman (Ephesians), Philip Towner (1-2 Timothy and Titus), Rikk Watts (Mark), and Jeffrey Weima (1-2 Thessalonians).  Carson handles James through Jude and Beale covers Colossians and Revelation.  The book has a brief introductory overview, followed by treatment of each New Testament book in canonical order, followed by a bibliography.  The one exception is Philemon, since it has no quotes or probable allusions to the OT; a single paragraph touches on a relevant OT background text and recommends a couple of resources for studying this epistle.  A sizable index of references to Scripture and other ancient literature is provided at the end, while the work begins with a table of abbreviations for various scholarly publications referenced.

EVALUATION

In evaluating this resource, I want to raise and answer two questions.

First, who could benefit from this work?

Generally speaking, the treatments in the book are not only thorough, but often thoroughly academic in their language and tone.  There is a great deal of interaction with other sources and viewpoints (though the authors are generally conservative theologically).  The target audience is presumably Bible scholars, theologically trained pastors, and seminary students.  Someone who has learned through self-study will need to have attained to an advanced level or be willing to learn some new vocabulary to get the maximum benefit from this work.  Some use of the biblical languages, as well as terms like midrashtargum, and pesher may present difficulties to those without adequate education.  That being said, this would be a great resource to have in a Bible college or seminary library, or in the study of a scholar or theologically educated pastor , or student receiving a theological education.  It would not be a helpful resource for those without this training.  For those with such training, the use of this work will hopefully help their understanding of the biblical text in the early stages of their study, so that they can rightly interpret and apply it.

Secondly, is this work necessary?

I’m not sure this work is necessary for everyone who could benefit from it.  I am currently consulting it as I preach through Ephesians, and it gave me some considerations to chew on as I looked at Paul’s use of Psalm 68:18 in Ephesians 4:8.  But I also have several commentaries on Ephesians I am using, in addition to notes from various study Bibles.  The CNTUOT went into much greater detail to examine the questions surrounding this passage than any of the commentaries I had.  However, I ended up finding the most plausible approach in a study Bible note that gave an explanation not even considered in the CNTUOT.  While such instances are probably rare exceptions, this reference work may not be necessary for people who have libraries of scholarly commentaries that treat the handling of OT quotes and allusions in the NT.  Some of the better study Bibles should also treat the NT use of the OT, and busy pastors probably will find all they need if they have several key commentaries and consult several helpful study Bibles (such as MacArthur, ESV, HCSBReformation Heritage, Zondervan study Bibles).  If a pastor has a large part of his week devoted to study, this work should enrich that study, but I would not consider it indispensable if he has access to plenty of quality resources.

On the other hand, if one needs a one-stop, thorough treatment, and one has adequate training, this could easily and affordably fill a needed gap.  A student specializing in either the OT or NT could greatly benefit from this volume, as could a trained pastor with a very limited library.

Using this resource in tandem with further study in the area of Christ-centered interpretation as dealt with in books such as Edmund Clowney’s The Unfolding Mystery, James Hamilton’s God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, and David Murray’s Jesus on Every Page could help one fill out and process some of the specific details when going through each passage and will hopefully help one to better understand God’s Word and how its parts relate to each other.  Including this study of Christ-centered interpretation will also help one grapple with whether the apostolic interpretation of the OT is a matter of historical record only or whether they provide a model for today, something this book is related to, but is not designed to address on its own.

Thanks to Baker Academic for providing me a copy of the book at half price in exchange for a review.

Purchase links (affiliate):  WTS (hardcover)    Amazon (hardcover)   Amazon (Kindle)

The Psalms: An Anatomy of All Parts of the Soul

Consider this quote prefacing John Calvin’s comments on the Psalms (free online at: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom08.vi.html) – then go read and pray the Psalms:

I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated… Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of our need, and next, from faith in the promises of God. It is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure. In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book.

Keith and Kristyn Getty in Concert This Week in Abingdon, Virginia

Keith and Kristyn Getty write sound, singable, enjoyable modern hymns for the church.  They are bringing their band to Abingdon, Virginia, for a concert to benefit Cornerstone Christian Academy on Thursday, October 8 at 7 p.m.  I’m looking forward to a great evening of worship with them and praying that God will receive all the glory as we worship our Lord Jesus together.  If you can get to Abingdon, please consider coming:

For a sampling of their music, click below or visit their website, www.gettymusic.com, or their YouTube channel.

Tickets for sale at http://www.itickets.com/events/349112.html or by calling 1-800-965-9324.  Secure your tickets and help get the word out – share on social media or download media to share at your church, business, and with your friends:
https://goo.gl/0RkJNk

For more information about Cornerstone Christian Academy, visit www.cornerstoneabingdon.org.

Three Steps of Inductive Bible Study

God’s Spirit moved on holy men to pen His written revelation to us (2 Peter 1:21). This resulted in 66 books which His people receive as authoritative and without error, since their source is an all-knowing, omnipotent, and truthful God. Since He has communicated to us in written form, His intention is that we read and study His Word.

For studying God’s Word, inductive Bible study is a method many have found fruitful. Inductive Bible study is at the core of what we train preachers and teachers to do through the Cumberland Area Pulpit Supply, so we can prepare and send out men who have studied the Word they are to preach.

The method is simple and something we already do every day. It will also help us to directly encounter the voice of God in the text, as we prayerfully and sincerely approach Him there. There are three basic steps to this type of study and three corresponding questions. I have gleaned much from Peter Krol’s excellent, brief, and very readable book, Knowable Word, which I commend as a follow up to this article.

WHAT DOES IT SAY? (OBSERVATION)

First of all, we must observe what the Bible says. Every day we observe some things and ignore others. When we observe that the red flag is still up on our mailbox, that observation will provide the foundation for our interpretation that the letter has not yet been picked up, which will lead to our response of refraining to visit the mailbox. Likewise, when we read the Bible, we need to notice both large and small details.

To help us observe, we need to set aside any familiarity we may have with the text and know some things to look for. Asking the basic who, what, when, where, why, how questions is always a good starting point to slow us down and help us see what is in the text. These questions are helpful to note what you can see about the bigger picture (author, audience, occasion, type of literature, themes, purpose) and the particulars of a certain passage (structure, key words, connector words).

WHAT DOES IT MEAN? (INTERPRETATION)

Once we notice what is actually there in the text, we can proceed to the next step, which is interpretation. Interpretation seeks to find the meaning of the text on its own terms, not presuming to understand it before we have observed and examined it in context. The context includes not only the paragraph of the verse(s) under consideration, but encompasses the entire book of the Bible in which it is found, as well as the larger context of the whole Bible, since all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16).

The type of literature and factors such as figures of speech will have an impact on interpretation. The structure and grammar that you should have observed will also provide clues for understanding the meaning of a passage. Since the purpose of the Bible is to point us to Christ (2 Tim 3:15; Luke 24:27, 44), we must also interpret a given text in light of Jesus. To do this, we can ask how the text points forward or backward to Jesus’ death and resurrection, how it illustrates our need for repentance and faith in Christ, or how it demonstrates our obligation to preach Him to all nations.

HOW SHOULD I RESPOND? (APPLICATION)

Bible study cannot be properly done without observation and interpretation. But it is not complete without application. We must seek to discern the implications of the biblical text, not only for its original hearers and readers but for our own time and our own lives. Application deals with how we need to change in our thinking, our desires, and our actions. The text may have multiple applications that can vary widely depending on one’s situation. Application can be made to individuals as well as to entire groups. We must look for the proper response to the text, and then cooperate with God’s Spirit to overcome our inertia and be doers of the Word (James 1:22).

CASE STUDY: PHILIPPIANS 4:2-9

OBSERVE

Philippians 4:2-9 contains several well known verses. As you read through the book and the passage, you can see them in light of their larger context. In this case study, we observe that Paul is addressing a situation in the church at Philippi, a church he had helped start after meeting them at a women’s riverside prayer meeting and being jailed for his ministry (Acts 16). The context of the book shows us that the church had sent him a gift to him in a later imprisonment, which he acknowledges, but that he also wanted to address the issue of unity in the church. Their fear of persecution, need for more humility, and threat of false teachers were factors that reduced their unity and robbed them of joy. In this particular passage, Paul lists two feminine names, Euodia and Syntyche, tells them to be of the same mind in the Lord and enlists a true yokefellow to help them. The commands to rejoice in the Lord always, be gentle, pray, think on certain things, and follow Paul’s example come immediately after Paul addresses this particular instance of disunity.

INTERPRET

The fact that these commands follow Paul’s mention of a specific situation strongly suggests that the church was to work through the apparent conflict between these women by doing the things commanded. As they tried to help Euodia and Syntyche, they needed to rejoice in the Lord (4:2-3). This is the same Lord who set the perfect example of humility (2:5-11) and who should be everything to them (3:7-11), whose gospel they needed to proclaim and represent in a worthy manner, which would be demonstrated in unity (1:27). They needed to be gentle since the Lord is at hand (4:5), avoid anxiety through thankful prayer (4:6-7), think on excellent and praiseworthy qualities (4:8), and follow Paul’s good example (4:9).

APPLY

When we face conflict in the church today, rather than avoiding people, we need to take responsibility, whether as one of the parties directly involved or someone who can help them resolve matters (4:2-3). We need to be of the same mind in the Lord and remember that we are on the same team if we are believers (4:2). We need to rejoice, not in getting our own way, but by locating our joy in the Lord, regardless of how matters proceed (4:4). We need to be gentle, not harsh, since the Lord is at hand and looking on during our conflict (4:5). As conflict brings anxiety, we need to take that to the Lord in prayer and be thankful for our brothers and sisters, and expect mind- and heart-guarding peace to come from God (4:6-7). We need to think on the things that are excellent, not dwelling on the negatives and our differences primarily, but the pure, good, true things that are who they are in Christ and who God is making them to be now (4:8). We must not follow just any example in dealing with conflict, but godly ones which follow the pattern laid out in the text (4:9).

KEEP PRACTICING

The best way to learn inductive Bible study is … to do it! Pray and ask God’s Spirit to open your eyes and heart (Psalm 119:18). Read, read, and re-read. Observe, interpret, and apply. Look at what it says, learn what it means, and live it out.

After you do these three steps, you can add one more. Share what you have learned with others. You can do this one on one, in a small group, or even through writing or preaching. Lord willing, in the next issue, we will consider how inductive Bible study is a necessary foundation for biblical, expository preaching that feeds God’s Word to people.

For more help in inductive Bible study and supply preaching, check out the Pulpit Supply Handbook or capsministry.com.

Related:  “How to Agree When You Disagree” – sermon from Philippians 4:2-9

Thanks to the Common Ground Herald for printing this article there!