Support us with your Logos purchase

Tag: Study

NLT Helpfinder Bible

NLT Helpfinder Bible

Click Here for Photos of Helpfinder Bible

 

Buy from Amazon (affiliate)

Currently offered by both Tyndale House and Guideposts, the Helpfinder Bible is one of the most practical Bibles you can invest in. (Tyndale House sent me a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one; my opinions are my own.)

 

The HelpFinder Bible updates the NLT Touchpoints Bible, which paired a very helpful topical index with an incredibly easy to understand text of Scripture. Here is some information from Guideposts about the Helpfinder Bible:

 

Let God’s Word help erase your fears and comfort and encourage you during difficult times.

The HelpFinder Bible brings you God’s Word at your point of need so you can easily find the exact Scripture that speaks to your heart. When we’re faced with life’s challenges, our own stress sometimes makes it hard to find the right Scripture to bring us peace. But now, you can find the comfort and help you need instantly with the HelpFinder Bible. This beautiful Guideposts edition will help you build your faith with the Promises of God. You’ll always be able to find just the right Scripture to calm your fears, erase your worries, and increase your Biblical knowledge. You’ll turn to the HelpFinder Bible again and again to:

  • Get instant access to thousands of notes and verses on more than 100 “life-needs” with a comprehensive index.
  • Discover the healing wisdom of God’s Word on key topics from betrayal and burnout to debt, discouragement, and divorce…to emptiness and frustration to grief, guilt, and healing…to loneliness to regrets, stress, and so much more.
  • Learn how the truths you read in God’s Word apply to your personal situation.
  • Soothe your soul and work through your emotions as you read the Psalms.
  • Find introductions to each book of the Bible that include: an overview emphasizing its core messages, key themes, and verses, plus an at-a-glance outline.

 

Cover Options

Guideposts offers the NLT Helpfinder Bible in paperback but in a larger format with a 9-point font for easy reading. The Tyndale House Edition is available in paperback, e-book, hardback, and imitation leather. I am reviewing the black imitation leather edition from Tyndale House publishers. Surprisingly, the Helpfinder Bible comes with a sewn binding for enhanced durability.

Paper and Font

The paper is soft white, which is helpful in reducing glare and makes for easier reading. My colleagues tell me that the gsm for the paper is somewhere in the mid 30s. It is also fairly opaque.

We have a red letter edition, here, and the redi is nicely done. It is not as dark as I would prefer but it is fairly consistent. It does not devolve into pink like what happens with many other red letter editions.

The font is a little smallish for my taste, approximately 8-point in the Tyndale Edition and 9-point in the Guideposts Edition.

 

Helpfinder Index

The Helpfinder Index bills itself as bringing God’s word to your point of need and it does this very well. The Helpfinder Index  is a topical study guide which runs to 368 pages. Each topic comes with an introductory paragraph, several questions related to the topic as well as answers from Scripture. It is very similar, in concept, to the NASB or Amplified Topical Reference Bibles. To be clear, the Helpfinder Index is not as in-depth as either Nave’s or MacArthur’s Topical Bibles but I do not want you to think  of that as a drawback; Unlike those resources, the Helpfinder Bible is not primarily geared toward pastors. Instead it is geared toward the average person in the pew who wants to let God’s Word minister at a point of need.

While I do advocate doing your own study, you could actually follow the Helpfinder Index and ready-made lessons for Sunday School or the Sunday Sermon.

 

Application Notes

There are 500 application notes provided to help you apply the truths of Scripture to your life. They appear to be very abbreviated versions of what you find in the Life Application Study Bible.

The Application Notes are found in a grey and red box at the bottom of the page. Each note is a simple paragraph; I would recommend pairing with the either the Life Application Stud Bible or the NLT Study Bible to go deeper with the notes and topical guides.

 

Promises from God

Promises from God are in red letters (but they are marked out with “Promises from God in black letters). Each one contains a promise from God, Psalm 23:4 for example.

Book Introductions

The Book Introductions are a couple paragraphs related to application points in the text of Scripture.

What You Will Be Reading About

This section is essentially an outline of the book. They are not super detailed but they do bring out the major points of each book.

Key Verses

This section highlights the verses from each book of the Bible which are helpful to memorize.

 

Overall Thoughts

This will be a very practical tool for someone who is new to the study of Scripture. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of topical study but there is a place for it. Life offers us tough questions and the Bible is completely sufficient for answering those questions, especially when you have the help of the Helpfinder Index.

 

Do I recommend it? Yes. If you are looking for helpful ways to apply the Bible to your life, this is a great stepping stone Bible. If you are looking for a solid topical reference Bible, you have found an ideal choice.

Tony Evans Bible Commentary Review

Tony Evans Bible Commentary Review

 

Click Here for more photos

 

Buy from Amazon (affiliate)

 

I had, previously, written on the Tony Evans Study Bible and now we are reviewing the other component of the Tony Evans Study Set, The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Note: Unlike the Tony Evans Study Bible, this was NOT provided by Holman for the purposes of a review; I sourced it at my own expense.

Notable fact: The Tony Evans Bible Commentary has a unique place in history as the 1st Bible commentary to be compiled and edited by an African American, Dr. Tony Evans.

Prefatory Remark:

I have certain theological disagreements with Dr. Evans (I am a Calvinist where he, clearly is not.) BUT I value the experiences that Dr. Evans brings to the table both as a person of color and as a pastor focused on the needs of the urban church. Dr. Evans’ emphasis on living the Kingdom Life really resonates with me. As Dispensationalists we are often accused of not being focused on current realities of the Divine Kingdom and Dr. Evans really blows that claim right out of the water as he teaches us to be aware of both the coming physical and political reign of Christ and the realities of living as Christ’s Kingdom Emissaries in the world.

Translation Used

Unlike most commentaries, the Tony Evans Bible Commentary is based on the Christian Standard Bible. I am quite glad to see this as several other translations offer a broad array of commentaries.

CSB as you will remember, is a mediating translation, which is to say that falls in the middle of being fastidiously literal and meaning based.

Cover and Binding

This is a jacketed hard cover with what appears to be an adhesive binding. Normally I prefer a sewn binding but that is frequently not done with commentaries.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper in the commentary is quite a bit thicker than in the Study Bible. It is a muted white and very opaque. While I don’t yet know if I will mark in it, you should have no issue with liquid highlighter, gel highlighter, colored pencil, or ball point pen.

The text is laid out in a double column paragraph format. It has a black letter text in around a 9.5-font. The text is broken up by the Outline as section headings, which are in a red letter font.

Supplemental Content

QR Codes

This is the first commentary that I have seen where QR codes are included. Each QR Code is linked to a video introduction provided by Dr. Evans and B&H Publishing. The videos are concise but fairly informative. The QR Codes are, actually, my favorite feature as they make the commentary more interactive, more personal, and less dry. I would like to see this feature carried on to other commentaries.

Introductions

Each book comes with a concise introduction, approximately 1-2 pages. They are nowhere near as detailed as in most other commentaries but they do cover the essentials: Author, Historical Background, Message and Purpose, and a brief outline. In this particular commentary, the concise introduction fits the overall intent of the commentary.

The format of the introductions is well suited for the person who is new to the study of the Bible.

Overview of Theology

Here, again, is a feature that is not often seen in a commentary but which is most useful to have. Virtually every commentator has a theological position from which he writes, in this case Dispensationalism. The inclusion of the Overview of Theology provides the reader an introduction to the commentators perspective as well as a lens through which to view the comments.

The late Dr. R.C. Sproul pointed out that everyone is a theologian at some level and it is clear that Dr. Evans agrees. We all have some form of theology and, in this case, the Overview of Theology helps the reader to lay out an orderly and systematic approach to that theology.

The Overview of Theology is very similar to the one Dr. MacArthur provides in his one volume commentary and his study Bible. In both cases, I am very glad to see it included. Helping our congregation to have a proper view of God is our foundational task as pastors.

Outlines on the Godhead

The entire purpose of the Scripture, and its study, is the understanding and glorification of the Godhead. Dr. Evans provides a basic outline of each Person of the Trinity to help us understand the Person, His role in Redemptive History, and how best to give Him glory.

This is a very important section to be included in any commentary. The most mysterious and inscrutable doctrine in the entire Bible is the doctrine of the Trinity. We cannot grasp this doctrine in its entirety and Dr. Evans does not try to get us to understand it. Rather, he provides clear and easily understandable teaching as to each person in the Trinity so that we understand the role of each and we are able to relate to them.

Topical Index

There is a brief Topical Index included. While a systematic study  of a book of the Bible is best, a topical study can provide an break in the intensity of your study. Also, the Topical Index helps with understanding how the Bible speaks to the issues of life.

Glossary of Doctrinal Terms

Many times in a commentary, we find unfamiliar terms. The inclusion of a glossary to define those terms is quite helpful.

Overall Thoughts

The Tony Evans Bible Commentary is not an academic commentary by any stretch of the imagination though that’s not a bad thing. It takes a fairly pastoral approach to the Scripture. The commentary notes are much more in-depth than the Study Bible but all of the notes from the Study Bible can be found in the commentary.

When pastoring a church as large as the one Dr. Evans pastors, it is very difficult to have one on one ministry with everyone which is where this commentary comes into play. The tone of the commentary is very personal. It comes across as though you and Dr. Evans were in his study and he was mentoring you through the Scripture.

I am very new to Dr. Evans and his teachings so I do not have many comments on his study material. I am pleased with the volume. I think it fills a need, one which we were, perhaps, not aware existed. Most commentaries are multi-volume and filled with theological language; even many single volume commentaries have this issue. The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, taking a much more pastoral approach, sits alongside the MacArthur Bible Commentary (single volume) as one of the most understandable and readable commentaries currently available.

Who should buy this volume?

The Tony Evans Bible Commentary would be fairly well suited to most Christians, but it is most suited to the new Bible student. Generally, commentaries are geared toward pastors and seminary students. However, in this case the commentary is more pastoral than academic so I repeat myself  in saying just about any Christian will benefit from it.

 

 

Exodus Essentials Lesson Notes

Exodus Essentials Lesson Notes

Exodus- Story of Redemption

 

The message

Trust, obey and worship the redeeming, covenant-making God who is with us.

 

Storyline

In Exodus the Lord saved His people in a manner that foreshadowed the ministry of Jesus. First, He came to them while they were in bondage and freed them. He did so not on the basis of their good works, but by grace; withholding judgment when He saw the blood of a spotless lamb covering the doorposts of their homes (see Exodus 11–12). Then, after he saved them, God gave His people laws to govern them—on His terms, for their benefit—and called them to faithful obedience. Following that pattern, Jesus Christ died for His people while they were yet in bondage to sin (Romans 5:8) and freed all who will believe in Him through His death and resurrection. Then He made them new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) and taught them obedience (John 5:14–15). Given the similarities between the exodus and God’s plan to bring about the redemption of all who will believe in Him through Christ, it is no wonder Jesus told the Jews in Jerusalem, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me” (John 5:46). 

Key Words in Exodus

Delivered: Hebrew natsal —3:8; 5:18; 21:13; 22:7,10,26; 23:31—this verb may mean either “to strip, to plunder” or “to snatch away, to deliver.” The word is often used to describe God’s work in delivering (3:8), or rescuing (6:6), the Israelites from slavery. Sometimes it signifies deliverance of God’s people from sin and guilt (Psalm 51:14). In 18:8–10, however, the word is a statement of God’s supremacy over the Egyptian pantheon of deities.

Consecrate: Hebrew qadash —28:3,41; 29:9,33,35; 30:30; 32:29—this verb means “to make holy,” “to declare distinct,” or “to set apart.” The word describes dedicating an object or person to God. By delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, God made the nation of Israel distinct. Through His mighty acts of deliverance, God demonstrated that the Israelites were His people, and He was their God (6:7). By having the people wash themselves at Mount Sinai, the Lord made it clear that He was claiming a special relationship with them (19:10).

Washing: Hebrew rachats —2:5; 19:10; 29:4,17; 30:18,21; 40:12,30— washing or bathing. The term was used in both religious and cultural settings. The ancient custom of washing a guest’s feet was a part of hospitality still practiced in the New Testament period (Genesis 18:4; John 13:5). Ritual washing was an important step in the purification of the priests for service in the Tabernacle (40:12). Washing with water symbolized spiritual cleansing, the preparation necessary for entering God’s presence (Psalm 26:6; 73:13). The Old Testament prophets used this imagery of repentance (Isaiah 1:16; Ezekiel 16:4). In the New Testament, Paul describes redemption in Christ as “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5).

Key Verses: Exodus 6:6; 19:5, 6—“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments’” (6:6).

“‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’” (19:5, 6).

Key Chapters: Exodus 12–14—The climax of the entire Old Testament is recorded in chapters 12–14: the salvation of Israel through blood (the Passover) and through power (the Red Sea). The Exodus is the central event of the Old Testament as the Cross is of the New Testament.

Key People in Exodus

Moses —author of the Pentateuch and deliverer of Israel from Egyptian slavery (2–40)

Miriam —prophetess and older sister of Moses (2:7; 15:20–21)

Pharaoh’s daughter —the princess who rescued baby Moses from the water and adopted him (2:5–10)

Jethro —Midian shepherd who became Moses’ father-in-law (3:1; 4:18; 18:1–12)

Aaron —brother of Moses and first high priest of Israel (4:14–40:31)

Pharaoh —unnamed Egyptian leader at the time of the Exodus (5:1–14:31)

Joshua —assistant to Moses and military leader who led Israel into the Promised Land (17:9–14; 24:13; 32:17; 33:11) 

Key Doctrines in Exodus

Covenant promises —God’s promise to Abraham to preserve his heritage forever (12:1–3,7,31–42; Genesis 17:19; Leviticus 26:45; Judges 2:20; Psalm 105:38; Acts 3:25)

The nature of God —human beings cannot understand God completely but can come to know Him personally (3:7; 8:19; 34:6–7; 2 Samuel 22:31; Job 36:26; Matthew 5:48; Luke 1:49–50)

The Ten Commandments —the basic truths of God (20:1–17; 23:12; Leviticus 19:4,12; Deuteronomy 6:14; 7:8–9; Nehemiah 13:16–19; Isaiah 44:15; Matthew 5:27; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 13:14; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 5:3,5)

God’s Character in Exodus

God is accessible —24:2; 34:4–7

God is glorious —15:1,6,11; 33:18–23; 34:5–7

God is good —34:6

God is gracious —34:6

God is holy —15:11

God is long-suffering —34:6

God is merciful —34:6,7

God is all-powerful —6:3; 8:19; 9:3,16; 15:6,11–12

God is provident —15:9–19

God is true —34:6

God is unequaled —9:14

God is wise —3:7

God is wrathful —7:20; 8:6,16,24; 9:3,9,23; 10:13,22; 12:29; 14:24,27; 32:11,35

Points to consider/Teaching Points

Exodus demonstrates that rescue from bondage is accomplished only by God. The Israelites could not save themselves from oppression, nor from plagues, nor from the pursuing Egyptians, nor from their own folly; but God could.

The plagues overcame aspects of nature that the Egyptians thought their gods controlled. Through the plagues, including the ultimate plague of death, God showed his power over Egypt’s non-existent “gods” (12:12).

Exodus emphasizes the need of a covenant relationship with God. (No rules? No relationship!) God desires to shape us in his image, requiring obedience to him as evidence of faith in him (Jas 2:14-18).

The presence of God is another major theme: God wants us to enjoy him, his blessings and his life. But his presence does not tolerate sin, so God often reveals himself protectively, via a symbol behind a barrier. The tabernacle and its curtain (veil) provided a barrier, such that the Israelites were required to believe in an ark (his symbol) that they never actually saw. Inside the ark were two copies of the Ten Commandments: God’s and Israel’s, the words of the covenant showing how people could connect to God and his favor.

 

Personal Application

Exodus contains three powerful principles:

God blesses those who remain in a covenant relationship with Him. He is our God and we become His holy people. Because God knows that our lives are fruitful when we follow His ways, He clearly explains what is acceptable to Him. God delivers those who are in bondage. Deliverance may not come instantaneously, but it will come to those who wait and prepare for it by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our deliverance is based on obedience to God’s expressed will and on moving when He says to move. Before the children of Israel could be delivered, they had to wait until after the Passover meal was completed. They also had to wait until the angel of death had passed over those households under protection of the lamb’s blood; after that, God gave the command to go. As we seek to live by God’s Spirit, we need to wait at times, but be ready to move as He leads.

Foreshadowing Christ

Moses is a type of Christ, for Christ delivers from bondage. Aaron serves as a type of Jesus as the High Priest (28:1) making intercession at the altar of incense (30:1). The Passover indicates that Jesus is the Lamb of God who was slain for our redemption (12:1–22).

The “I am” passages in John’s Gospel find their primary source in Exodus. For example, John states that Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48); Moses speaks of the bread of God in two ways, the manna (Ex. 16:35) and the showbread (25:30). John tells us that Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12; 9:5); in the tabernacle, the lampstand serves as a never-failing light (Ex. 25:31–40).

 The Holy Spirit at Work

Oil in the Book of Exodus represents the Holy Spirit (27:20). For example, the anointing oil, used to prepare worshipers and priests for godly service (30:31), is a type of the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22, 23 parallels God’s attributes described in Exodus 34:6, 7: He is merciful, gracious, longsuffering, good, truthful, and forgiving.

The most direct references to the Holy Spirit can be found in 31:3–11 and 35:30—36:1, when individuals were empowered by the Holy Spirit to become great artisans. Through the Spirit’s enabling work, our natural abilities are enhanced and expanded to perform needed tasks with excellence and precision.

 

Teaching Structure

  1. Liberation from slavery in Egypt
  • Moses preserved and prepared to lead (1:1-4:26)
  • Israelite suffering and confrontation with Pharaoh (4:27-7:25)
  • Plagues show Egyptian gods’ impotence (chs. 8-11)
  • Passover, Israel’s exodus reminder festival (12:1-30)
  • Escape from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea (12:31-15:21)
  • God’s provision for his traveling people (15:22-17:16)
  • Israel gets a legal system (ch. 18)
  • Preparation for the covenant at Mount Sinai (ch. 19)

 

  1. God grants his people a covenant relationship
  • The Ten Commandments: basic rules for righteousness (20:1-17)
  • Prophecy and proper altar worship (20:18-26)
  • Basic provisions: holy living required (chs. 21-23)
  • Acceptance and ratification of the covenant (ch. 24)

 

  1. Design and building of the tabernacle
  • Interior, including the ark of the covenant (ch. 25)
  • Exterior and standards for priests (chs. 26-29)
  • Worship materials and times (chs. 30-31)
  • Idolatry and resulting suffering (32:1-33:6)
  • Final plans and materials (33:7-36:7)
  • Constructing and equipping the tabernacle as designed (36:8-39:43)
  • The tabernacle erected and filled with God’s glory (ch. 40)

 

 

Introducing the Bible Essentials Series

Introducing the Bible Essentials Series

Introducing the Bible Essentials Series

As we transition into 2021 and the Bible Essentials Series, I want to provide some background as well as structural/organizational materials for you to better understand the Bible.

Let’s begin with some introductory material adapted from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta Mears, Halley’s Bible Handbook, Wilmington’s Bible Handbook, the NKJV Open Bible, the Essential Bible Companion, athe the Bible Reader’s Companion.

 

The Old Testament is an account of a nation (the Jewish nation). The New Testament is an account of a man (the Son of man). The nation was founded and nurtured of God in order to bring the man into the world (see Genesis 12:1–3).

God Himself became a man so that we might know what to think of when we think of God (see John 1:14; 14:9). His appearance on the earth is the central event of all history. The Old Testament sets the stage for it. The New Testament describes it.

As a man, Christ lived the most perfect life ever known. He was kind, tender, gentle, patient and sympathetic. He loved people. He worked marvelous miracles to feed the hungry. Multitudes—weary, pain ridden and heartsick—came to Him, and He gave them rest (see Matthew 11:28–30). It is said that if all the deeds of kindness that He did “should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written” (John 21:25).

Then He died—to take away the sin of the world and to become the Savior of men.

Then He rose from the dead. He is alive today. He is not merely a historical character but a living person—this is the most important fact of history and the most vital force in the world today. And He promises eternal life to all who come to Him.

The whole Bible is built around the story of Christ and His promise of life everlasting to all. It was written only that we might believe and understand, know and love, and follow Him.

Apart from any theory of inspiration or any theory of how the Bible books came to their present form or how much the text may have suffered in passing through the hands of editors and copyists or what is historical and what may be poetical—assume that the Bible is just what it appears to be. Accept the books as we have them in our Bible; study them to know their contents. You will find a unity of thought that indicates that one mind inspired the writing of the whole series of books, that it bears on its face the stamp of its author, and that it is in every sense the Word of God.

 

Old Testament—Principal Places

There are 12 principal places around which the history of the Old Testament is written:

  1. Eden (Genesis 1–3)
  2. Ararat (Genesis 8:4)
  3. Babel (Genesis 11:1–11)
  4. Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:28–12:3)
  5. Canaan (with Abraham) (Genesis 12:4–7)
  6. Egypt (with Joseph) (Genesis 37–45, especially 41:41)
  7. Sinai (Exodus 19:16–20:21)
  8. Wilderness (Numbers 14:26–35)
  9. Canaan (with Joshua) (Joshua 1:1–9)
  10. Assyria (captivity of Israel) (2 Kings 18:9–12)
  11. Babylon (captivity of Judah) (2 Kings 24:11–16)
  12. Canaan (the land of Israel—return of the exiles) (Ezra 1:1–2:70)

As you build the story of the Bible around these places, you see the whole history in chronological order.

Old Testament—Principal Facts

Still another way to think through the Bible is by following the great facts in order:

  1. Creation (Genesis 1:1–2:3)
  2. Fall of man (Genesis 3)
  3. Flood (Genesis 6–9)
  4. Babel (Genesis 11:1–9)
  5. Call of Abraham (Genesis 11:10–12:3)
  6. Descent into Egypt (Genesis 46–47)
  7. Exodus (Exodus 7–12)
  8. Passover (Exodus 12)
  9. Giving of the Law (Exodus 19–24)
  10. Wilderness wanderings (Numbers 13–14)
  11. Conquest of the Promised Land (Joshua 11)
  12. Dark ages of the Chosen People (Judges)
  13. Anointing of Saul as king (1 Samuel 9:27–10:1)
  14. Golden age of Israelites under David and Solomon—united kingdom (2 Samuel 5:4–5; 1 Kings 10:6–8)
  15. The divided kingdom—Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12:26–33)
  16. The captivity in Assyria and Babylon (2 Kings 17; 25)
  17. The return from exile (Ezra)

New Testament—Principal Facts

  1. Early life of Christ (Matthew 1:18–2:23; Luke 1–2)
  2. Ministry of Christ (Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
  3. Church in Jerusalem (Acts 1–2)
  4. Church extending to the Gentiles (Acts 10–11; 13–20)
  5. Church in all the world (Romans 10–11, 15; Ephesians 1:22–23)

Principal Biblical Periods

  1. Period of the patriarchs to Moses (Genesis)
  2. The godly line—leading events
  3. Creation
  4. Fall
  5. Flood
  6. Dispersion
  7. The chosen family—leading events
  8. Call of Abraham
  9. Descent into Egypt; bondage
  10. Period of great leaders: Moses to Saul (Exodus to Samuel)
  11. Exodus from Egypt
  12. Wandering in wilderness
  13. Conquest of Canaan
  14. Rule of judges

III.  Period of the kings: Saul to the captivities (Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, the prophetical books)

  1. The united kingdom
  2. Saul
  3. David
  4. Solomon
  5. The divided kingdom
  6. Judah
  7. Israel
  8. Period of foreign rulers: captivities to Christ (Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel)
  9. Captivity of Israel
  10. Captivity of Judah
  11. Christ (Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)
  12. The Church (Acts and the Epistles)
  13. In Jerusalem
  14. To the Gentiles
  15. In all the world

 

Principles and Helps for Bible Study

Accept the Bible just as it is, for exactly what it claims to be. Pin your faith to the Bible. It is God’s Word. It will never let you down. For us human beings, it is the rock of ages. Trust its teachings, and be happy forever.

 

Read your Bible with an open mind. ­Don’t try to straitjacket all its passages into the mold of a few pet doctrines. And ­don’t read into its passages ideas that are not there. But try to search out fairly and honestly the main teachings and lessons of each passage.  Ultimately, the text says what the text says. We need to look at the cultural context, genre, word choices, etc. Our search is to understand the Bible in similar fashion to how the original readers would have understood it.

 

Keep a pencil at hand. It is a good thing, as we read, to mark passages. Mark texts that resonate with you and passages that challenge you to grow in your faith.  Reread passages you have marked. In time a well-marked Bible will become very dear to us, as the day draws near for us to meet the Author.

 

Habitual, systematic reading of the Bible is what counts. Occasional or spasmodic reading does not mean much. Unless we have some sort of system to follow, and hold to it with resolute determination, the chances are that we will not read the Bible very much at all. Our inner life, like our body, needs its daily food.

 

Try to set a certain time each day for whatever reading plan you are following. Otherwise it is  likely that one would neglect or forget to read the Bible.

 

The particular time of day does not greatly matter. The important thing is that we choose a time that best fits in with our daily round of work, and that we try to stick with it and not be discouraged if now and then our routine is broken by things beyond our control.

Memorize favorite verses. Thoroughly memorize them and repeat them often to yourself — sometimes when you are alone, or in the night to help put yourself to sleep on the everlasting arms. These are the verses that we live on.

 

Suggested Reading Plans

The Learning Supplement for each book will include options for reading each book.

 

On Marking and Journaling

Start with a wide margin Bible in your favorite translation. I find Prismacolor Pencils to be ideal for marking. You could underline specific words or entire verses. Some people draw symbols or pictures. Others put detailed nots into the margins. Whatever you choose to put in the margins, these notes and symbols  are what makes the Bible truly yours.

Five Point Calvinism?? An Answer and an Apologetic (Guest Post)

Five Point Calvinism?? An Answer and an Apologetic (Guest Post)

That which is referred to as Calvinism, generally, and “5-point Calvinism,” specifically, is much misunderstood and maligned even moreso by those who mean well but lack a proper understanding of what we believe. To help us with that we are, once again, blessed to have received instruction from that dear friend and eminent theologian, James Quiggle. What folllows is his instrucion…

Every now and then I am asked if I am a “5-point Calvinist,” or a “4-point Calvinist,” or “Just what kind of Calvinist are you?!?”

Those questions reflect a misapprehension about Calvinism, even among Calvinists. The misapprehension is that Calvinism is a neither more nor less than a system of soteriology (doctrine of salvation). That, of course, is not true.

Calvinism was a revival of Augustinianism (Augustine of Hippo, d. AD 430). You are affirming the Calvinistic system of doctrine if you believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, saved by grace through faith, the sovereignty of God, the three offices of the Christ (prophet, priest, king), the deity of Jesus Christ, and the deity, personality, and ministries of the Holy Spirit (conviction, salvation, teacher, administrator of the NT church, etc.). Calvin is, in fact, the person who defined for the NT church the person and work of the Holy Spirit as we understand that doctrine today.

But I digress.

Unfortunately, the entire Calvinistic system of theology has become defined by an acronym, the TULIP (explained below), developed from the Cannons of the Synod of Dort to express a Calvinistic view of soteriology. The Synod of Dort was a year-long examination of the soteriology of Jacobus Arminius. Both Arminius (1560–1609) and Calvin (1509–1564) were dead by the time of the Synod (1618–1619), so the theological conflict was debated by the followers of both systems of theology using the Bible and their respective writings. The decision of the Synod was published in a document known as the Canons of the Synod of Dort (available at many web sites). The Arminian view of soteriology was declared false, the biblical arguments of Calvinism were declared the true understanding of biblical soteriology.

But the TULIP does not accurately reflect Calvinistic soteriology as defined by the Canons of the Synod of Dort. Let us first examine the TULIP, albeit briefly. These may not be the definitions you have heard or read.

T — Total Depravity. This means every aspect of human nature—physical, moral, spiritual—is negatively affected by the sin attribute in human nature, with the result an unsaved human being is always in rebellion against God. The effect of the sin attribute on the spiritual aspect of human nature is to make the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception grossly dulled, to the extent the sinner is unable to comprehend spiritual matters, but instead rejects them, and as a result is unable to initiate saving faith.

U — Unconditional Election. This means God chose (election, Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2), for reasons not stated and therefore unknown, to give some human beings his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8), in order to redeem them from their sinful state of existence. And it means God chose to take no action, positive or negative, toward human beings he had not elected. God’s choices were not based on any intrinsic or foreseen merit in those whom he chose to elect to salvation, for when the decree of election was given, God saw all human beings as sinners, all completely undeserving of redemption.

L — I will explain this below.

I — Irresistible Grace. This means the grace God gives to an individual sinner through his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8) will enliven the sinner’s faculty of spiritual perception, so that the sinner who has received God’s gift will comprehend the spiritual issues of sin, the Savior, and salvation, with the result the sinner willingly chooses to exercise saving faith in God’s testimony as to the way/means of salvation. God’s gift of grace and faith always results in salvation.

P — Perseverance of the Saved. This means the saved person will continue in the faith by faith all the way through life and death, when (after death) he/she will receive the grace of indefectibility. Perseverance is often mischaracterized by another acronym, OSAS, Once Saved Always Saved, resulting in silly hypothetical questions from skeptics. Perseverance is not OSAS. Perseverance is both the continuance of faith and the continued practice of the faith. God gives the grace of perseverance to the believer, and the believer uses the grace of perseverance to mold his/her life of faith to continue in the faith by means of faith all the way through life and death.

Looking now to the 5-point/4-point issue. The “L” in the TULIP represents “Limited Atonement.” This is where the TULIP strays from the Canons of Dort. Limited atonement refers to Christ’s act of propitiation on the cross and his subsequent resurrection. It will be helpful to define Christ’s atonement-propitiation.

Propitiation. The satisfaction Christ made to God for sin by dying on the cross as the sin-bearer, 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10, for the crime of sin committed by human beings, suffering in their place and on their behalf. Christ’s propitiation fully satisfied God’s holiness and justice for the crime of sin. Christ’s propitiation was of infinite merit, because his Person is of infinite worth. Christ accomplished the propitiation of God for sin by enduring spiritual and physical death on the cross. Christ endured spiritual death when he was separated from fellowship with God (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), and physical death when he separated his soul from his body (“[B]owing his head, he gave up his spirit.”)

But in the TULIP acronym, Christ’s propitiation, the “L,” has different meaning: Christ’s death on the cross to redeem the elect. This is often stated in the question, “For whom, did Christ die?” The TULIP answer is, only for the elect. But that is a significant departure from the Canons of Dort on which the TULIP is based.

The divines of the Synod of Dort were of two camps on the issue of Christ’s propitiation. Some believed in limited efficacy (only the elect are redeemed) and some believed in unlimited sufficiency (all the sins of the whole word are paid for). The Synod resolved this issue, as they did with all the issues, biblically. Both sides recognized the Scripture teaches both views. The Synod therefore taught both the universal sufficiency of the propitiation (atonement) and the limited effectiveness of the propitiation to save only the elect.

The Synod stated, Second Head of Doctrine, Article III, “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” Thus, the gospel is offered “to all persons promiscuously [indiscriminately] and without distinction” (Article V). That many die unsaved is not due to “any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.” Thus, an Unlimited Atonement/Propitiation.

The Synod then stated, Second Head of Doctrine, Article VIII, “For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.” Thus, a Limited Redemption, sometimes known as Particular Redemption.

The “L” in the TULIP should have been “Limited Redemption,” not “Limited Atonement. Why did those who created the TULIP (not the divines of Dort) distort the teachings of the Synod? Because of a peculiar habit of the Puritans, perpetuated by Reformed Theology.

The Puritans had a bad habit of replacing the cause with the effect. The difference between election and predestination gives an example. The Puritans, and Reformed theology, always name election as predestination. But these are different decrees of God with different effects. Definitions.

Election. The choice of a sovereign God (Ephesians 1:4), 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect the salvation of some sinners (Ephesians 2:8), and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny salvation to other sinners (Romans 10:13; Revelation 22:17). The decree of election includes all means necessary to effectuate salvation in those elected.

Predestination. God’s decree to conform the believer to be like Christ according to certain aspects of Christ’s spiritual character and physical form (Romans 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2), and to place the believer in the legal position of God’s son and heir (Ephesians 1:5, 11), so that the believer has an inheritance from God and is God’s heritage.

More simply, election is a decree concerning sinners, predestination is a decree concerning the saved. Election is the cause, predestination the effect. Election-salvation is the cause of the effect predestination: to be like Christ. But the Reformed theology goes straight to the effect and names election as predestination.

So too Christ’s propitiation and the sinner’s redemption. Christ’s propitiation completely satisfied God’s justice for the crime of human sin. Then, God’s justice having been satisfied, the infinite merit of the propitiation is applied by God according to his decree of election via his gift of grace-faith-salvation. Propitiation is the cause, redemption the effect. But the Reformed theology goes straight to the effect and names Christ’s propitiation/atonement as redemption. Thus the confusion caused by the TULIP, and Reformed soteriology.

When the Canons of Dort are faithfully expressed, then one’s soteriology must acknowledge unlimited atonement/propitiation and limited redemption. But because Reformed theology distorts the atonement/propitiation to be redemption, they reject unlimited atonement, calling it universal salvation.

Unlimited Atonement (propitiation), is not universal salvation, because the direct purpose of the atonement was not redemption but judicial satisfaction toward God for the crime of sin.

For an atonement (propitiation) to be redemptive it must be applied by faith to the sinner’s demerit (his or her sin). That is clear from every Old Testament sacrifice for sin. On the first Passover in Egypt, the merit of the lamb’s blood was sufficient for every household, but must be applied to each household to be effective for that particular household, Exodus 12:13. The blood of the sin offering, collected at the moment the animal was killed, was sufficient to atone for sin, but must be applied, Leviticus 5:5–7, to be efficient for forgiveness. The blood on the day of atonement was sufficient for all, but must be applied to the Ark of the Covenant to be efficient to forgive sins.

The direct purpose of Christ’s atonement-propitiation was toward God. The merit of Christ’s propitiation of God for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2, is sufficient for all, so that the call of the gospel and the duty to believe may be legitimately offered to all and required of all.

The effect or result of the propitiation is the application of its merit toward sinners. That merit is specifically applied via God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation (the salvation principle, “saved by grace through faith”) as determined by God’s decree of election, in order to effect the redemption (salvation) of those whom God has chosen to salvation. Without application there is no redemption.

The unlimited merit of Christ’s propitiation could be applied save any non-elect person: “whoever believes,” as the Scripture states. God takes no action, pro or con, toward the non-elect, but leaves them in their sinful state. The non-elect are unable to initiate saving faith because unable without God’s gift to overcome the rebellion and disobedience engendered by the sin attribute in human nature. If they could believe, God would act savingly toward them, but they always choose to disbelieve, because that is the nature of the sinner.

Unlimited Atonement (Propitiation), Synod of Dort, Canon 2, Article 3, does not teach universal salvation: the merit of the propitiation must be individually applied through faith. Canon 2, Article 8, Limited Redemption, does not teach Christ died only for a particular group, but that the merit of his propitiation is applied only to the elect.

Thus: Unlimited Atonement/Propitiation, Limited (Particular) Redemption.

Returning now to the original question, “What is a 5-point Calvinist?” To be a five point Calvinist one must affirm all five points of the T, U, L, I, P. A four point Calvinist is someone who does not agree with Limited Atonement/Propitiation. A 4-pointer affirms T, U, I, P.

But, and it is a BIG objection, the 5-pointer, as discussed above, rejects the statement of the Canons of Dort concerning the unlimited sufficiency of the atonement, focusing only on the redemptive effect of the propitiation, not the limitless merit of the propitiation. This is, in part, due to Reformed theology’s definition of the purpose of God in the world: to redeem sinners. If God’s purpose in the world is redemption, then one must devise a theology that accounts for so many sinners not being redeemed. The Reformed theology solution is to limit the sufficiency of Christ’s propitiation to the redemption of the elect alone.

The 5-point Calvinist is a distortion of Scripture, and the 4-point Calvinist is a straw-man designed to support the untenable 5-point position. The dual perspective of Christ’s propitiation as “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect” is the true Calvinist soteriology. This is the perspective of the Scripture. The dual perspective accounts for the universal call to believe, Romans 10:13, “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” and “Revelation 22:17, “Whoever desires let him take of the water of life freely.” The dual perspective accounts for the limited redemption effected by God’s choice. Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the creation of the universe,” and 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God from the beginning chose you for salvation,” and 1 Peter 1:2, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”

The “L” in the TULIP is too entrenched by centuries of false teaching to be changed. But if I could change it, that “L” would represent “Limited Redemption,” in agreement with the Canons of the Synod of Dort.

CSB Ultimate Bible Guide

CSB Ultimate Bible Guide

The publishing juggernaut, Holman/B&H Publishing continue to put out resources on the Bible not only at breathtaking speed but also in a variety of formats designed to help disciples at all levels of maturity. Today we are reviewing one of their handbooks, the Ultimate Bible Guide featuring the Christian Standard Bible translation. If you are not familiar, a handbook is a beginners level resource for understanding the Bible.

Note: I purchased this book on my own. B&H was not involved in the decision to review. My opinions are my own.

Translation:

Most Bible Handbooks feature either NIV or KJV but this features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). I have to say that I am quite pleased to see this. CSB is an excellent translation, the third iteration of Holman Christian Standard Bible, and, a rising star in Christian circles.

CSB is an Optimal Equivalence or Mediating Translation. It endeavors to provide a balance between a form based (essentially literal) and a meaning based translation. I would put it on the level of the 1984 Edition of the New International Version and, probably, a notch or two above the 2011. It is a very faithful translation of the Bible into English. I have used it in ministry in quite a few different ways. While my main translation is not CSB that has less to do with the translation and more to do with habit. It is a trustworthy translation that deserves consideration for your studies.

Content

Key Text

This is the central verse for each book of the Bible. If there was one verse that you should know for each book, the Key Text would be the verse that you would know.

Key Term

This is your watch word for the book of the Bible.  For example there is a call out on the word wilderness in the Book of Numbers. The call out points out that wilderness is referenced more than 40 times in Numbers

One Sentence Summary

As its name suggests, the One Sentence Summary, sums up each particular book of the Bible in a single sentence.

God’s Message

The God’s Message section covers the purpose in writing the book, Christian worldview themes, what the book teaches about God, what the book teaches us about humanity, and what the book teaches us about Salvation. All in all this section is very helpful in seeing how the story of redemption comes together in the Bible.

Christ In

We all know that that Bible is the story of Jesus. Now in the Christ In section, we can see how each book points to Jesus and how that portrait fits into the scope of Redemptive History.

Background Information

This encompasses many of the usual sections that we would encounter in a study Bible. We find information about the author, date & time of writing, cultural background. We are also told about the original audience which helps us to understand how to interpret the Scripture as we are seeking out Authorial Intent.

Literary Features

We often forget that the Bible is multiple genres of literature in a single volume and the Literary Features Section gives us a look at the type of literature comprising each book of the Bible. Helpful hint: knowing the type of literature presented is integral to a proper interpretation of the Scripture.

Themes

Simply put, this is a paragraph about the main thesis/theme of each book. 

Cover and Binding

The book itself is hardcover made out of fairly sturdy book board. To my surprise this little gem has a sewn binding. You don’t normally see a sewn binding in a mass market edition and especially at this price point. Since the binding is sewn this should last for quite a few years.

Buying the Book

I recommend keeping the book on hand for giving to new disciples. It will provide a solid overview of the Bible. Youth pastors should also keep the Ultimate Bible Guide on hand for students who are either new to Bible Study or want a rapid reference for on the go use.

Final Thoughts

I was rather surprised by how much content you get in this little book. To give you an idea of the size, it is comparable in footprint to the Cambridge Cameo Reference Bible, so fairly pocket sized. I recommend it highly, if for no other reason than it is a highly useful companion to the Christian Standard Bible.

 

 

 

Oxford NRSV Text Edition

Oxford NRSV Text Edition

Order from Christian Book Distributors 

 

This being the 30th Anniversary of the New Revised Standard Version, it seemed like a good idea to review another one. (This Bible was acquired at my own expense and the review was not solicited by Oxford University Press.)

I am reviewing Oxford’s Standard Text Edition in black genuine leather with two ribbon markers.

Translation

The New Revised Standard Version is one of the two commercially available updates to the Revised Standard Version, the other being the English Standard Version. NRSV is a more ecumenical text offering the Protestant Canon, Protestant Canon with Apocrypha, and the Catholic Canonical Edition. The NRSV Translation Committee boasts members of the Evangelical, Jewish, Mainline Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox Communities. Having Jewish Rabbi’s on the Committee, NRSV offers one of the most accurate English Renderings of the Old Testament (In most NRSV this is listed as “The Hebrew Scriptures commonly called the Old Testament). NRSV is the translation that powers the top three Academic/General Reference Bibles: New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Interpreter’s Bible, and the Harper Collins Study Bible and it is the standard English translation at Mainline Protestant Seminaries.

There is some measure of controversy regarding gender language in the NRSV; I do have an opinion on this issue but this is not the forum to discuss that. As a general rule, I find the NRSV to be a good general use translation, it features heavily in my Old Testament Studies. I leave you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusion as to the translation itself, though I assume that if you are reading this, you are amenable enough to the translation to be interested in editions that are available.

General Format

This Bible would fall into the hand-sized category. It measures 8.75 X 6.0 X 1.25 inches. It is a quarter of an inch smaller than the medium or standard size bible (6 x 9 x 1.25). It most certainly fits into to the thin-line category and is very briefcase friendly. By and large, I find this format to be very practical but you do have to be careful of font size as some hand size Bibles can have a font size that is rather small.

Font, Layout, Paper

The font is 8.0 but it is one of the more readable 8-point fonts that are available. This is a black letter text, as most NRSV Bibles are, and the black is a deep rich ebony, which is crisp and uniform throughout. Translation notes are also in black, and they are plentiful. They are in a 6-point font so there is a potential of difficulty for near sighted people like me.

The Scripture is laid out in a double column paragraph format. I do prefer a verse-by-verse format but Oxford executes the Biblical layout very well. Verse numbers are a little smallish but this Bible does something interesting with subject headings; they are actually in the footer.

The paper is not listed as India Paper, but it feels very similar to the India Paper that Cambridge uses and it is not entirely illogical to think that this is India Paper. It is very soft, thin but not annoyingly so, and a fairly crisp white gold gilding on the edges. There are tiny instances of show through, especially in the poetry books, but it is very minimal.

Cover, Binding, Ribbons

The cover is black pigskin (Standard as genuine leather). The cover is full grain and very pleasing to the touch, The liner is paste down, which annoys me; I think only bonded leather should include a paste down liner. Genuine leather is the baseline for deluxe/premium Bibles and really ought to include an edge-to-edge leather liner.

Naturally, Oxford has sewn the binding. This Bible is very clearly intended as a daily use Bible and the sewn binding ensures that it will last a lifetime. As it happens, the cover will need to be replaced long before the binding gives out. The binding is sewn very tightly and will require a couple of weeks of use before it will lay flat in Genesis or Revelation, but after a couple weeks of continuous use, it will lay flat in any scripture portion.

There are two yellow silk ribbons provided.  One will mark your Old Testament readings and your New Testament Readings. Clearly it will not be enough if you use this Bible for preaching or teaching, but you can have additional ribbons added by a competent re-binder.

Helps

There are not very many helps; I do not really find that to be a problem. Oxford provides what they refer to as a Select Concordance; it is abbreviated but not inadequate. You will find more than enough subjects for lesson prep.

There are also a few thousand translator’s footnotes. These include textual variants and alternate English readings. I really enjoy translator’s footnotes as they tend to give you an insight into the minds of the committee members.

For Preaching and Carry

The compact size of this Bible makes it ideal for every day carry. It is certainly light enough to prevent you from getting tired arms if using in for one handed carry.

As a preaching Bible, your results will vary. For me, I cannot leave it rest on the pulpit while I preach, I have to hold it. I have a tendency to be peripatetic while I am teaching and the size definitely lends itself to walking and talking. The layout is very well suited to preaching and teaching. I wish the margins were large enough to make some annotations but I won’t quibble over petty details.

Who Should Buy

The NRSV is best suited to those in seminary or to those in mainline protestant denominations (I frequently find NRSV in United Methodist Churches and Lutheran Churches.) This particular edition of the NRSV is very well suited to the teacher on the go.

 

 

 

 

New Disciples Day 30: Promise for Eternity

New Disciples Day 30: Promise for Eternity

Revelation 21:1-4  (NLT)

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

Footnotes:

  1. 21:3 Some manuscripts read God himself will be with them, their God.

 

Revelation 22:1-5 (NLT)

22 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit,[a] with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Footnotes:

  1. 22:2 Or twelve kinds of fruit.
New Disciples 29: Love for One Another

New Disciples 29: Love for One Another

1 John 3:11-24 (NLT)

Love One Another

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters,[a] if the world hates you.

14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers,[b] it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister[c] is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[d] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:13 Greek brothers.
  2. 3:14 Greek the brothers; similarly in 3:16.
  3. 3:15 Greek hates his brother.
  4. 3:17 Greek sees his brother.
New Testament Overview*

New Testament Overview*

Matthew: Written to a Jewish audience, this Gospel links the Old and New Testaments. It presents Jesus as the Messiah and King promised in the Old Testament. Matthew emphasizes Jesus’ authority and power.

Mark: Mark probably had pragmatic Roman readers in mind. His Gospel stresses action and gives a straightforward, blow-by-blow account of Jesus’ work on earth.

Luke: A doctor, Luke was also a fine writer. His Gospel provides many details of human interest, especially in Jesus’ treatment of the poor and needy. A joyful tone characterizes Luke’s book.

John: John has a different, more reflective style than the other Gospels. Its author selected seven signs that pointed to Jesus as the Son of God and wove together everything else to underscore that point.

Acts: Acts tells what happened to Jesus’ followers after he left them. Peter and Paul soon emerged as leaders of the rapidly spreading church.

Romans: Written for a sophisticated audience, Romans sets forth theology in a logical, organized form.

1 Corinthians: A very practical book, 1 Corinthians takes up the problems of a tumultuous church in Corinth: marriage, factions, immorality, public worship and lawsuits.

2 Corinthians: Paul wrote this follow-up letter to defend himself against a rebellion led by certain false apostles.

Galatians: A short version of the message of Romans, this book addresses legalism. It shows how Christ came to bring freedom, not bondage to a set of laws.

Ephesians: Although written in jail, this letter is Paul’s most optimistic and encouraging. It tells of the advantages a believer has in Christ.

Philippians: The church at Philippi ranked among Paul’s favorites. This friendly letter stresses that joy can be found in any situation.

Colossians: Written to oppose certain cults, Colossians tells how faith in Christ is complete. Nothing needs to be added to what Christ did.

1 Thessalonians: Composed early in Paul’s ministry, this letter gives a capsule history of one church, as well as Paul’s direct advice about specific problems.

2 Thessalonians: Stronger in tone than his first letter to the Thessalonians, the sequel goes over the same topics, especially the church’s questions about Christ’s second coming.

1 Timothy: As Paul neared the end of his life, he chose young men such as Timothy to carry on his work. His two letters to Timothy form a leadership manual for a young pastor.

2 Timothy: Written just before Paul’s death, 2 Timothy offers Paul’s final words to his young assistant.

Titus: Titus was left in Crete, a notoriously difficult place to nurture a church. Paul’s letter gave practical advice on how to go about it.

Philemon: Paul urged Philemon, owner of a runaway slave, Onesimus, to forgive his slave and accept him back as a brother in Christ.

Hebrews: No one knows who wrote Hebrews, but it probably first went to Christians in danger of slipping back into their old, rule-bound religion. It interprets the Old Testament, explaining many Jewish practices as symbols that prepared the way for Christ.

James: James, a man of action, emphasized the right kind of behavior for a believer. Someone who calls himself or herself a Christian ought to act like it, James believed, and his letter spells out the specifics.

1 Peter: Early Christians often met violent opposition, and Peter’s letter comforted and encouraged Christians who were being persecuted for their faith.

2 Peter: In contrast to Peter’s first letter, this one focused on problems that sprang up from the inside. It warns against false teachers.

1 John: John could fill simple words, such as light, love and life, with deep meaning, and in this letter he elegantly explains basic truths about the Christian life.

2 John: Warning against false teachers, John counseled churches on how to respond to them.

3 John: Balancing 2 John, this companion letter mentions the need to be hospitable to true teachers.

Jude: Jude gave a brief but fiery exposé of heretics.

Revelation: A book of visions and symbols, Revelation is the only New Testament book that concentrates on prophecy. It completes the story, begun in Genesis, of the cosmic battle between good and evil being waged on earth. It ends with a picture of a new heaven and new earth.

 

*This overview is from

The NRSV Student Bible

c.1994, 1996 by Zondervan

used by permission