My Romans Commentaries

I recently finished preaching through the book of Romans. My usual method of preaching in our church is verse by verse exposition. I usually am working on one or more books of the Bible in our regular preaching sessions. I call my method “the glacial approach to exposition,” which is to say, “I go slow.”

I began my Romans series on September 23, 2007. We finished 318 messages later on November 15, 2015. Of course there were interruptions for special speakers, mini-series, special occasions and Christmas (I usually take a month or more off for Christmas, preaching on a special Christmas theme each year). [Read more…]

me, the Holy Spirit, and my Bible

The great William Tyndale gave us most of our English Bible. He is credited with a quote about desiring to make the Bible such that the common plowboy could understand it. The quote (as many such) may be a bit off. Wikipedia reports it this way: “John Foxe describes an argument with a ‘learned’ but ‘blasphemous’ clergyman, who had asserted to Tyndale that, ‘We had better be without God’s laws than the Pope’s.’ Tyndale responded: ‘I defy the Pope, and all his laws; and if God spares my life, ere many years, I will cause the boy that driveth the plow to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost!’”

Regardless of the accuracy of the quote and Tyndale’s intended meaning, there is a common perception among Christians that they should be safe in personal Bible study by means of their reliance on the Holy Spirit to guide their understanding. To some extent, this is true. The simplest Christian, reading his Bible with the eyes of faith, guided by the indwelling Spirit is often able to discern more truth than learned scholars who study the Bible without faith or the Holy Spirit.

In spite of this, the individual who relies only on his own faith in Christ, God, the Spirit and the Bible will inevitably fall into misunderstanding and error if he pursues truth thus entirely on his own. There are several reasons for this.

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Proverbs 31

I have just posted an article called “Proverbs 31 – How ‘my son’ turned out after all” over on the FBFI blog, Proclaim & Defend. In it, I argue for the significance of the passage as the conclusion of the whole matter that is offered to us in the book of Proverbs. I think the passage neatly ties the whole book together and serves to demonstrate Solomon’s wisdom and skill in compiling all the material (even though one small portion was added later by the men of Hezekiah, though still the work of Solomon).

I bring it to your attention here because some of you might not be regular readers of P&D.

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apostasy

In a recent exchange elsewhere, I was taken to task over my use of the word ‘apostasy’ with reference to the change in emphasis in another Christian ministry.

This leads me to some thinking on the term. What is ‘apostasy’ anyway? What is ‘the apostasy’ (the specific usage that was challenged)? Is it legitimate to use the term in connection with Christian brothers? So a little Bible study ensues…

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Choir of Creation – Ps 148

We are nearing the end of our study of the Psalms. Just two more to go! Tonight’s offering was Ps 148, a beautifully crafted psalm, full of powerful thoughts concerning God and his relationship to his people. As I presented the material, I felt a little ‘flat’, not as engaged as I had anticipated in the study. As I was thinking the process over, I thought that this was one psalm that could have used some visual aids and perhaps a bit different style. I alternate between a preaching style and a ‘Question/Answer’ style for the Psalms. (The Q & A style is also known as “read my mind”, since I seem to come up with incredibly obscure questions. I need to learn how to write leading questions!)

Psalm 148 is called the Choir of Creation by Derek Kidner, one of the supreme commentators on the Psalms. His little work is just outstanding and has taught me an incredible amount about Hebrew poetry and how to pick out the features of the psalms, not to mention keen insights into each individual psalm.

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Contend (3)

To continue the discussion of Jude 3, I’d like to discuss the ultimate objective of Christian contention. (See these links for Part One and Part Two of this discussion.)

Various objectives have been suggested for Christian contention, and especially the Fundamentalist version of it. Ernest Pickering subtitled his book Biblical Separation with the line, ‘the struggle for a pure church.’ Certainly a pure church has to be an objective, but is it the one Jude has in mind ultimately?

Others suggest that Fundamentalist contention is simply lust for battle, ego and megalomania. Fundamentalists are the berserkers of Christianity, or the Idi Amin’s. Such suggestions aren’t very charitable, to say the least.

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Contend (2)

I wrote about Jude 3 a few days ago. That post motivated me to study the passage in more detail. The verse is really a profound statement, vv. 3-4 serving as Jude’s thesis statement for the epistle.

I preached on the passage this past Sunday. The message really centered around the dominant word of the passage and was entitled simply, “Contend”. This post reflects some of my observations from that sermon.

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the Matthew 18 bludgeon

A very widely misunderstood passage is the church discipline outline given by our Lord in Matthew 18.

KJV  Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

NAU  Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

This paragraph is often used as a bludgeon to stifle public criticism of public religious leaders in their public capacity. The person who uses it asks, “Have you talked to so-and-so personally (and privately) about this?” The questioner ignores the fact that he has not done so himself with the person he is questioning. Never let inconvenient details get in the way of shutting down public debate!

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well blow me down

I have been playing with Logos 4 for about five days now. I was fully prepared to disdain L4 as much as I do L3 and previous versions. Well…

Well blow me down, I actually like Logos 4. They said they rebuilt it from the ground up. They did! And it shows!

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a man of the book

I’d like to recommend an excellent article by one of my old professors, Dr. Stewart Custer. In “Biblical Balance," he writes advocating that we become less shallow in our Scriptural understanding and really get to know our Bibles. I am afraid that most of us are ‘sound bite’ Christians. We treat the Bible like the media treats newsmakers – we take a slice of words that we think represents all of truth on a subject and think we know what the Author meant.

Dr. Custer starts his article this way:

Many people use Scripture for their own purposes. I am referring to sincere Christians who use the Scriptures to reinforce their own private interpretations of the Bible and of life. Many of these people are very godly individuals. I know of preachers whose personal dedication to the Lord is unquestioned, but who have certain doctrines for which they are notorious. They plug these things as though they were the great truths of revelation, when they happen to be of private interpretation.

Most fundamentalists would say they have a handle on the idea of holiness. Dr. Custer points out there are approximately 600 references to the word ‘holiness’ in the Bible (leaving aside passages that don’t specifically use that word). How many of those passages would you say you have thoroughly studied? What kind of grasp do you have on holiness, according to the Scriptures?

Our culture is filled with media, as Dr. Custer points out. All kinds of noise blares at us, demanding our attention. We live fast paced lives. We are ‘Martha’ Christians. We need to learn to be ‘Mary’ Christians, and sit at the feet of Jesus.

Turn off our televisions and our computers. Turn off our ipods and iphones. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Mt 11.29)

I can tell you that I was mightily convicted by this little article this evening

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