1. God promises to comfort us in our affliction (2 Cor. 1:3-4). We can ask him on the basis of his Word to comfort us. Then we should pursue channels of that comfort! Psalm reading, praying (honestly), listening to worship music, asking brothers and sisters to pray for us, etc. God can and will use all these things (and more) to comfort us in our pain.Continue reading “5 Things to Remember in Suffering”
Throughout the history of Christianity, certain theologies, ideologies, and philosophies have arisen and threatened the church’s understanding of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. One such theology is the modern liberalism that arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which the main character of this essay describes as “an attempt to solve the problem of historic Christianity’s relation to modern culture.” In an attempt to solve this “problem,” modern liberalism became rooted in naturalism and discarded the supernatural particulars of the Christian message such as the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as mere symbols of the more general aspects of religion.
Modern liberalism taught that the essence of Christianity is to be found in its general ethical principles rather than in the event of the Son of God dying for the sins of His people. Liberalism made its way into many churches, denominations, and seminaries by the dawn of the twentieth century and was threatening to overpower historic Protestantism in its popularity and acceptance. However, church history often demonstrates that when a harmful theology arises, God raises up a voice to expose, correct, and provide clarity for the church. In the early decades of the twentieth century in the United States, that voice was J. Gresham Machen’s.Continue reading “J. Gresham Machen, A Biographical Essay”
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,Continue reading “The Center and Core of the Whole Bible”
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.Continue reading “Confidence in the Text”
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.Continue reading “God Walks on Water, Jesus Walks on Water”
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.Continue reading “One of the Hardest Parts of Seminary”
In 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).
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!
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
“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.”
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). 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.
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.”
 Benjamin Merkle, Exegetical Gems from Biblical Greek, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019), 99-101.