The Center and Core of the Whole Bible

I’ve been reading through Ned Stonehouse’s biography of J. Gresham Machen, the conservative New Testament professor at Princeton Seminary who stood against the liberal theology that was making inroads in the Presbyterian Church of America in the 1920s and 1930s.

Throughout the Book, Stonehouse highlights key sections from Machen’s works. In one of them, titled What is Faith?, Stonehouse recounts where Machen clearly sets forth what he believes to be the “center and core” of the whole Bible: the grace of God. And I couldn’t agree more. He writes,

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Confidence in the Text

We have been working through the book of Jonah in my Hebrew class, and this week we discussed several nuances in Hebrew that are tough to see in our English translations. The question was asked, “how do we show these differences when we teach or preach?” Our professor gave a response that caused me to reflect on one of the greatest privileges of seminary: gaining confidence in the text of the Bible.

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God Walks on Water, Jesus Walks on Water

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Jesus walked on water. Most people are familiar with this story. It may even be one of Jesus’ most remembered miracles, aside from rising from the dead or turning water into wine. But too often I read over it quickly and take it for granted. But this week I noticed a connection I haven’t seen before and I was able to see the profound message of the miracle in a new light.

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One of the Hardest Parts of Seminary

When I came to seminary, I assumed the most difficult aspects would be leading a balanced life, memorizing Greek and Hebrew vocabulary, or reading a large quantity of material well. But tonight I experienced what I’ve consistently found to be one of the most challenging aspects of seminary: relationships. It’s not difficult to find people to have a relationship with. In fact, it’s just the opposite, and that is the challenging part. There is an overwhelming amount of opportunities for good relationships with people who love Jesus.

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A Review of Richard Bauckham’s “Bible and Mission”

Summary

BibleandMissionIn Bible and Mission, Richard Bauckham seeks to respond to postmodernism’s rejection of universal metanarratives in favor of particulars by demonstrating that the Bible consistently moves from the particular to the universal, and thus, particulars are the means by which God achieves the universal. In other words, Bauckham wants to show the reader that the Christian faith is not just another universal truth claim that can be dispensed with in favor of particular or diverse expressions of religion, but that the Bible contains a series of God-ordained particulars that open the door to His universal kingdom. By establishing this movement from the particular to the universal in the Bible, Bauckham hopes to provide the reader with the ability to read the Bible in a way that takes seriously its missionary direction by taking both the particular and universal seriously, and achieving the latter via the former (11).

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Five Takeaways from Ernest Reisinger’s Biography

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Ernest Reisinger has been called an “unsung hero” in the resurgence of Reformed theology in the late 20th century.  Though Ernie would likely reject the title and want to remain unsung, Geoffrey Thomas presents the essence of his contribution to the church by recounting Ernie’s life – a life that was a model of humble faith, faithful evangelism, and diligent service for God in whatever season of life he was in. A life that, as Ernie would say, was completely indebted to the sovereign grace of God. Ernie was instrumental in running profitable businesses, planting churches, pastoring churches, helping Banner of Truth books expand throughout U.S., promoting seminaries, training pastors, and providing thousands of theologically rich books to people around the world. Here are my five primary takeaways from his biography:

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Ernie Reisinger on Doctrine and Christian Experience

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I’ve been working my way through Geoff Thomas’s biography of Ernie Reisinger and came across one of the clearest explanations of my own views regarding the importance of doctrine and Christian experience. Thomas quotes from Reisinger’s pamplet entitled Doctrine and Devotion,

“Doctrine is to Christian experience what bones are to the body. A body without bones would be like a lump of “glob,” utterly useless. Likewise, Christian experience without roots is like cut flowers stuck in the ground. They may look pleasant for a while, but ultimately they will fade. The other side of this truth must also be taken into account, that is, bones without flesh are but a dead skeleton. Doctrine without experience is useless.’

Thomas provides helpful additional commentary, “It is not enough to speak of immediate experiences of God without doctrinal knowledge. God must be worshipped in truth as well as in Spirit. Truth can be stated in real words, and when that is done there is Christian doctrine. To be a disciple of the Lord Jesus without knowing what Christ taught must be a vain quest. It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of sound doctrine in the Christian life. Right thinking about all spiritual matters is imperative if we are to have right living. As men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles, so sound Christian character does not grow out of unsound doctrine. The church that neglects to teach sound biblical doctrine weakens church membership. It works against true unity. It invites instability in its fellowship. It lessons conviction and puts the brakes on vital progress in the congregation.”

He concludes regarding experience, “Mark well that apostasy from the faith has never resulted from a prayerful and diligent submission to God’s Word. If the great doctrines do not produce and develop such Christian character of true zeal, genuine holiness, self-denial, and evangelism, then those doctrines are not being held properly or else they have become an end in themselves.”

May God grant that we recognize the importance of and continue growing in both Christian doctrine and experience!

“From the Study to the Pulpit,” A Review of Allan Moseley’s 8-Step Method to Preaching and Teaching the Old Testament

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Introduction and Purpose

Allan Moseley’s From the Study to the Pulpit seeks to provide a comprehensive methodology for preaching and teaching the Old Testament. In the opening pages of his book, Moseley quotes Haddon Robinson on the need for such a method, “Clear, relevant biblical exposition does not take place Sunday by Sunday by either intuition or accident. Good expositors have methods for their study” (14). Moseley successfully provides anyone teaching the Old Testament with a such a method. This method aims to challenge readers to grow in exegetical proficiency while also providing a simple, usable process that they can use right away. The author succeeds in this task, blessing the reader with trustworthy manual backed by decades of teaching and preaching the Old Testament. If followed, Moseley’s method is sure to facilitate clear, relevant, and biblical teaching that pleases God and faithfully represents His Word.

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How did Jesus Come “By Blood and By Water?” An Exegetical Summary of 1 John 5:6

1 John 5:6- Text

Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ ἐλθὼν δι’ ὕδατος καὶ αἵματος, Ἰησοῦς Χριστός· οὐκ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι μόνον ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ ὕδατι καὶ ⸀ἐν τῷ αἵματι· καὶ τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν τὸ μαρτυροῦν, ὅτι τὸ πνεῦμά ἐστιν ἡ ἀλήθεια

Translation

“This is the one who came by water and blood, that is, Jesus Christ. (He came) not by the water only but by the water and by the blood. And the Spirit is the one who bears witness, because the Spirit is the truth.”

The Views

What does it mean that Jesus came “by water and blood?” There are at least six views: The first view understands the “water and blood” to refer to the rites of baptism (water) and the Lord’s Supper (blood). The second view understands the “water and blood” to refer to the “blood and water” that poured out of Jesus’ side on the cross (John 19:34-35). The third view takes the “water and blood” as referents to Jesus’ baptism (water) and his atoning death on the cross (blood).[1] The fourth view understands “by water” to refer to Jesus’ baptism ministry and “by blood” to his death. The fifth view takes “by water and blood” as a reference to natural birth, viewing the phrase as an argument for his real humanity. The sixth view takes “water and blood” as a unit reflecting the Jewish understanding of the body as composed of water and blood, making a statement analogous to John’s description of Jesus coming ‘in the flesh’ in 4:2.

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The Great Commission, “Go” or “As You Go?”

Should the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 be rendered, “Go and make disciples,” or “As you go, make disciples”?

The word translated “go” is the participle πορευθέντες. Participles are similar to words in English that end in -ing­ or –ed, and they have the form of both a verb and an adjective. Πορευθέντες is a verbal participle in relation to the main verb μαθητεύσατε: “make disciples.” As Merkle states, verbal participles like πορευθέντες often function as main verbs or verbs that are coordinate with a main verb. These participles can take on the mood of the main verb and become parallel to it. An example would be Luke 17:19 when Jesus tells the leper, “rise and go your way, your faith has made you well.” Rise (Ἀναστὰς) is a participle parallel to the main verb go (πορεύου). This use of the participle is called attendant circumstance.

Although some view πορευθέντες as a temporal participle (describing the “when” of the main verb) and translate the verse “as you go, make disciples,” most scholars say the evidence points to the attendant circumstance use of the participle in Matthew 28:19. Thus the participle πορευθέντες takes on the mood of μαθητεύσατε (an imperative), and becomes parallel to it. It should then be rendered as a command parallel to the main verb ‘make disciples,’ “Go and make disciples…”

Merkle concludes, “while we acknowledge that the participle πορευθέντες is not the main verb (and not the main command) in the Great Commission, without doubt it carries an imperatival force (“Go!”). Consequently, the church is given a command to go to the nations in order to make disciples.”[1]

 

[1] Benjamin Merkle, Exegetical Gems from Biblical Greek, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019), 99-101.