New Podcast – Daily Devotions from Faith’s Checkbook by Spurgeon

charles_haddon_spurgeon1Lord willing, I will be podcasting Spurgeon’s daily devotional, Faith’s Checkbook, this year.

The link to the first episode on Podomatic is here:

Faith’s Checkbook – The Bible’s First Promise

If you enjoy, please subscribe and share.  To read the devotional online, visit spurgeon.org.

Daily Devotions from Faith’s Checkbook Homepage

Advertisements

10 Reasons I’m Glad Hebrew & Greek Were Required in Seminary

My family and I were glad to arrive at December 9, 2016.  A journey I began in 2007 as an online student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville ended at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City when I graduated with the Master of Divinity degree.  Along the way, I took a few modular and distance classes for transfer at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies (now Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary) and Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary.  I am grateful for the opportunity to receive this theological training, provided in large part through my local church.  But it did take a while.

While it was not the only factor in the length of the journey, the biblical languages were a major issue.  In fact, I transferred to MBTS thinking I would take a shorter degree (MTS) since the MDiv was taking so long for me to wrap up.  I could do the degree completely online at a faster pace and lower price.  Since it was online, I would not have to leave my family to attend modular classes several hours away.  Also, I had gone through a tough time in Hebrew I.  Although I made an A- in the class, I never felt that I really internalized the language.  I had to drop Hebrew Syntax and Exegesis as life was overwhelming with transitions at the time, especially with the recent diagnosis of autism in our precious four-year-old daughter.

When I neared the completion of the MTS, I noticed that I only had a few classes needed to complete the MDiv, but the languages were still the big obstacle in my mind.  Through the lessons on the websites for Dr. Robert Plummer’s Daily Dose of Greek (my online hermeneutics prof in my first semester!) and Dr. Mark Futato’s Daily Dose of Hebrew (author of the textbook used in my final class, Hebrew II), I dabbled into the languages and regained a confidence that attaining a beginning proficiency and use of them was possible, so I proceeded to take the necessary classes I lacked in Greek and Hebrew.  Looking back, this has been a major turning point in my personal life and ministry preparation.  I am tremendously grateful that I had to study the languages, and here are some of the reasons.

The study of Hebrew and Greek have helped me:

  1. Better appreciate the complexity of language.  The study of these ancient languages really drives home the point that accurate translation is not a simplistic exercise.  It is impossible to translate each single word in one language into a single word in another language.  Some words are condensed and must be unpacked into several to be understood.  Many words have to be supplied (especially pronouns), particularly since the biblical languages can use verbs that have the subject implied and not expressly stated.  Decoding grammar and syntax requires understanding how word order and endings work.  One cannot simply look up each word in Hebrew or Greek in a dictionary for that language and then make accurate English sentences out of them.
  2. By instilling humility.  There is so much to learn.  Who can absolutely master these languages?  I’m under no pretension that completing a one-year language course makes me a biblical language expert.  The disagreement among experts on some of the finer points also humbles me.  I still need the assistance and help of those more learned and experienced in the languages.
  3. Through promoting a regimen of discipline and carefulness.  Studying the languages forced me to slow down and really pay attention to detail.  All those parsing exercises are not a waste of time.  I had to memorize and continually use vocabulary, rules, and patterns for noun declensions, verb conjugations, and articles.  While this sometimes felt like grinding, it quickly paid off as my reading and translation fluency increased.
  4. Further appreciate the inspiration, preservation, and transmission of the Bible.   God has preserved the words that He breathed out.  The amount and quality of evidence we have and the specific way He inscripturated His message are causes for rejoicing.  I especially appreciated the digital unveiling of the text in the En-Gedi Leviticus scroll since I was taking Hebrew at the time.  I want to study these inspired words that God has kept and had transmitted for us.
  5. Strengthen my confidence in the accuracy of many English Bible translations.  Not all translations are of equal quality, and not all translations are made from the same manuscript base, but most of our standard English translations model this science and art well.  Additionally, because of the complexity of language, there can be more than one good way to render certain passages in Hebrew or Greek into English, just as there is more than one good way to say some things in English.  On the other hand, there is an aspect of simplicity and transferability in languages.  Otherwise, we would not be able to learn them and translate them!  Certainly, my translation efforts were much more awkward and stilted than the many skillful renderings we have in English Bibles.  Nonetheless, it is good to know that we can learn the languages and check their accuracy.
  6. Enjoy learning.  It was actually fun to study these languages and begin translating and reading the Bible with the words breathed out by God.  Seeing how my instructors simplified and streamlined the essentials for us, and then went on to the complex, made great sense pedagogically and made learning a pleasure.
  7. Through training me with skills for working with an array of study tools.  It’s so nice to be able to do more than find a word by knowing its place in the Hebrew or Greek alphabet and look it up in a reference work.  By knowing grammatical concepts, I can more intelligently evaluate the dictionary entries to see what really applies to the passage I’m studying.
  8. Filter teaching and resources that make unfounded claims based on the languages.  Some books and sermons effectively pull the wool over the eyes of people, at least when they uncritically accept statements prefaced with words like, “In the Greek, this means…”  Sometimes, the purported meaning is incorrect, or sometimes a word or passage is made to mean far more or less than it should.  Ignorant or deceitful teachers can confuse people with unfounded statements about the way gender works in languages, by seeking to read their particular angle on an English preposition into the text when the Greek and the context do not support that interpretation, or by giving a “deep” insight via a word study that claims a meaning for a word that it does not have in that particular instance.  It’s gratifying to be able to go back and double-check these sorts of statements, in the spirit of the Bereans (Acts 17:11).
  9. Grow in gratefulness to God for those who have paved the way.  Although God’s Word has been inspired, preserved, and transmitted, this would only get us so far if no one could read it.  In the history of the church, this knowledge was not always widely available.  For example, the knowledge of Hebrew was rare in many early centuries of the church.  Its recovery and the advancement in understanding that has resulted have made possible the multitude of classes, books, and resources we have today.  Those who have studied and grown in their Hebrew and Greek and have taught others are gifts to be celebrated and not neglected.
  10. Through motivating me to continue in the languages.  I don’t want to lose what I have attained.  I have experienced usefulness and enjoyment in them, but I am under no illusion that I am a master of them.  I want to go deeper with Hebrew and Greek, and also want to learn Biblical Aramaic since part of God’s inspired Word was breathed out in that language.  I want to make sure at least some work in the original language of the text is involved in my sermon preparation (ideally, a minimum of translating the preaching passage).  I want to eventually teach one or more of these languages, at least for beginners.  My plan to continue includes utilizing the Daily Dose videos, working through some other Hebrew grammars, the Biblical Aramaic video and workbook by Miles Van Pelt, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek (WTS – Amazon hardcoverKindle), and attending the Minister and His Greek New Testament conference at SBTS (Jan. 13-14, 2017).

I believe that my seminary experience has helped me to better know God through His Son, Jesus, and has helped me to learn and hone the disciplines needed to study, obey, and communicate God’s Word in order to equip and minister to others.  While my journey to the MDiv has ended, the journey to be mastered by God’s Word through studying the languages has just begun.  And it’s a path I want to stay on for the rest of my days.

 

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.