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Regeneration and the New Birth

Regeneration and the New Birth

In Jn 3:1-8, Jesus discusses one of the foundational doctrines (i.e., teachings, foundational principles, basis of belief) of the Christian faith: regeneration (Tit 3:5), or spiritual birth. Without being “born again” in a spiritual sense, a person cannot become part of God’s kingdom. This means that a person’s life must be spiritually renewed in order to be spiritually saved and to receive God’s gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The following are important facts about spiritual birth and renewal.

  1. Regeneration, or spiritual birth, is an inward re-creating of a person spiritually–a life transformation (total change or remaking of the person’s attitude, thinking, and actions) that occurs from the inside out (Ro 12:2; Eph 4:23-24). It is a work of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:6; Tit 3:5; and through this work of transformation, God passes on his gift of eternal life. It marks the beginning of a new and personal relationship with God for those who yield their lives to Christ (Jn 3:16; 2Pe 1:4; 1Jn 5:11). Spiritual birth is the way a person becomes a child of God (Jn 1:12; Ro 8:16-17; Gal 3:26) and a “new creation” (2Co 5:17; Col 3:9-10). A person who is born again spiritually will no longer conform or live according to the character and influence of the ungodly beliefs, behaviors, and lifestyles of the world (Ro 12:2). Instead, he or she is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24;

  2. Spiritual birth is necessary because all people, apart from Christ, are sinful by nature (i.e., separated from and in opposition to God) from birth. On our own, we are not capable of having a close personal relationship with God. Without the life-transforming power of his Holy Spirit, we could not continue to obey and please God (Ps 51:5; Jer 17:9; Ro 8:7-8; 1Co 2:14; Eph 2:3.

  1. Spiritual birth happens to those who repent of sin (i.e., admit their sin and turn from their own way), turn to God (Mt 3:2) and yield control of their lives to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord–the Forgiver of their sins and Leader of their lives (see Jn 1:12, note). The beginning of this experience of spiritual salvation involves “the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). Though spiritual birth is an immediate experience that takes place as soon as a person truly repents and accepts God’s forgiveness, God continually renews and transforms a Christian’s mind (Ro 12:2) and inner being (Eph 4:23). This spiritual renewal is an ongoing, “day-by-day” process (2Co 4:16;)

  1. Spiritual birth involves a transition, or complete change, from an old life of sin (i.e., going our own way, which is a path of rebellion against God) to a new life of obedience to Jesus Christ (2Co 5:17; Gal 6:15; Eph 4:23-24; Col 3:10). This means that there should be noticeable changes in a Christian’s attitude and lifestyle (see 1Pe 4:1-2). Those who are truly born again are set free from slavery to sin so they can fulfill God’s purpose for their lives (see Jn 8:36, note; Ro 6:14-23). They receive a renewed attitude and desire to obey God and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:13-14). By depending on him, they do what is right by God’s standards (1Jn 2:29), they love others in words and actions (1Jn 4:7), they avoid things that defy and displease God (1Jn 3:9; 5:18) and they do not set their affections on temporary, worldly things (1Jn 2:15-16).

  2. Those who are born again spiritually cannot continue to sin (i.e., go their own way, ignore, or defy God’s commands and standards; see 1Jn 3:9, note). They cannot remain in a right personal relationship with God unless they earnestly pursue God’s purposes and carefully avoid evil (1Jn 1:5-7). This is possible only by relying on God’s grace (i.e., his undeserved favor, mercy, and empowerment; see 1Jn 2:3-11, 15-17, 24-29; 3:6-24; 4:7-8, 20; 5:1), by maintaining a strong and growing relationship with Christ (see Jn 15:4, note) and by depending on the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Ro 8:2-14). For further comments on the character traits that should be evident in a spiritually born-again person.

 NATURE AND THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.

  1. It does not matter how spiritual a person may talk, seem or claim to be, if he or she lives by principles that are immoral and follows the ways of the world, the person’s conduct shows that there is no spiritual life within and that he or she is instead living like a child of the devil (1Jn 3:6-10).

  2. Just as a person can be “born of the Spirit” (Jn 3:8) by trusting God and receiving his gifts of forgiveness and eternal life, he or she can also forfeit, or lose, that life by making foolish, selfish and ungodly choices and by refusing to trust God. As a result, he or she will miss out on the life God offers and will die spiritually. God’s Word warns, “if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die” (Ro 8:13). Even as believers, if we continue the path of sin and refuse to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance (which he gives mainly through God’s Word and our conscience), we can put out the light of God’s life in our soul and lose our place in God’s kingdom (cf. Mt 12:31-32; 1Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Heb 6:4-6; 1Jn 5:16.

  3. The new birth that comes only through God’s Spirit cannot be compared equally with physical birth because God’s relationship with his followers is a spiritual matter rather than an act of the flesh or human effort (Jn 3:6). This also means that while the physical tie of a father and child can never be completely reversed or lost, the Father/child relationship that God desires with us is voluntary; and we can choose to walk away or deny it during our time on earth (see Ro 8:13, note). Our relationship with God and eternal life with him are conditional and depend on our ongoing faith in Christ that is shown by lives of obedience and genuine love for him (Ro 8:12-14; 2Ti 2:12).

     In summary, spiritual birth, or regeneration, brings: spiritual cleansing (Jn 3:5; Tit 3:5); the indwelling of God’s Spirit (Ro 8:9; 2Co 1:22); transformation into a “new creation” in Christ (2Co 5:17); adoption as God’s spiritual child (Jn 1:12-13; Ro 8:16; Gal 3:26; 4:4-6); the Holy Spirit’s guidance and understanding of spiritual things (Jn 16:13-15; 1Co 2:9-16; 1Jn 2:27); the ability to live right by God’s standards and to develop his character traits (Gal 5:16-23; 1Jn 2:29; 5:1-2); victory over sin (1Jn 3:9; 5:4, 18); and an eternal inheritance with Christ (Ro 8:17; Gal 4:7; 1Pe 1:3-4).

 

Excerpted from the Life in the Spirit Study Bible c. 2008 by Life Publishers International in association with Zondervan

NASB Classic Reference Bible-Buffalo Hide

NASB Classic Reference Bible-Buffalo Hide

Photos of the Cassie Reference Bible

Zondervan has taken one of my favorite NASB editions and kicked it up a notch. The NASB Ckassic Reference Bible, now in brown Buffalo Hide.

Note: Zondervan provided a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one and my opinions are my own. 

The most important feature of this edition is its portability: It clearly falls into the hand size/compact category, actual measurements are 8.5 x 5.5 inches. This is quite useful when dealing with limited space in a brief case.  To the best of my knowledge. This is the most popular of the Zondervan editions.

There are a number of features offered for such a portable Bible:

Buffalo HIde

This is the stand out feature of this Bible.  Unlike most genuine leathers, which are a stiff pigskin, this is very soft and supple. Buffalo Hide, it seems, is about as supple as a regular cowhide though not quite as delightful as a calfskin.

Center Column References

This is laid out in what I think of as a traditional reference format with the references in between the two text columns. All 95,000 of the available NASB cross-references are provided including the alternate translations offered by the Lockman Foundation.  This is a very important feature, perhaps the most important other than the text. NASB, as one of the top two academic texts, is very heavily cross referenced and annotated. I would venture to say that any person who mastered the references would be well equipped to teach the Bible to others no matter the level of formal education that they possess. 

Introductions and Brief Outlines

Zondervan obviously intends for this Bible to be used as a study aid when including this feature and I am so glad that they did. I frequently encounter believers who are not going through any discipleship process or systematic study of the Bible and this is where I start. The Introductions offered, here, are in depth enough to get you started on your study but still brief enough to be read in a short time. The outlines are no where near as detailed as the NASB Study Bible and that is ok; you don’t always want a theology library in your pocket but you do want to have sufficient resources to guide a younger believer through their study.

I would rank the introductions and outlines at the middle school level. They are easy enough to master for just about any Christian. 

In Text Maps and Charts

There really is not a lot that needs said about the maps and charts other than to say that they are a very useful tool for visualizing the lands you are reading about or important concepts that need a second look.

Font, Layout, and Paper

We are presented with a very readable 8-point font size for the main text and it looks as though the references are 6-6.5-point font. The font works really well in this particular Bible. It is a red-letter edition and the red is done well enough that I did not have much trouble with it when out in the sun or in low light settings.  With this smaller font size, Zondervan’s Comfort Print Font really shines. It is far easier to read than the previous edition. 

As I mentioned before, this is a double column format, which I prefer primarily because that is what I am most familiar with. It is one of the few Bibles that you can get from Zondervan that are still sewn; it does have a paste down liner as opposed to being leather/edge lined but that isn’t really anything to complain about.

As A Carry Bible

The NASB Classic Reference from Zondervan is, easily, the most portable NASB that I have. It is quite lightweight and fits easily into most of my briefcases. I have even, on one or two occasions, forgot that I had it with me and then put my Scofield KJV in the bag.

Final Thoughts

This is a great choice in a “bring it with me Bible.” Since it is so easy to carry while not straining the eyes when reading you should be quite pleased with it.

In the interest of full disclosure, now that I have bifocals, I endeavor to use a font size no smaller than 10-point. That is not to imply that this Bible is in any way inadequate for most readers; it just happens that is poses a challenge for me.

Thoughts on Soteriology (Guest Post)

Thoughts on Soteriology (Guest Post)

Visiting Professor, James Quiggle has offered us another excellent and thought provoking article, this time an excerpt from one if his books…

A Doctrinal Statement on Soteriology

(From “My Doctrine as a Dispensationalist,”

(James D. Quiggle.)

Soteriology (the doctrine of salvation). For human beings to be saved God must convict the sinner of his/her sin and give the sinner his gift of grace-faith-salvation, Eph. 2:8. For a person to be saved he/she must respond to God-given conviction of sin and believe God and God’s testimony as the means by which God’s grace in salvation is to be accessed. Every salvation is by grace through faith, without personal merit (works) but Christ’s merit alone, Eph. 2:8–9.

Election. The choice of a sovereign God, 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect the salvation of some sinners, and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny salvation to other sinners. The decree of election includes all means necessary to effectuate salvation in those elected. God’s decree of election ensures the salvation of the elect, but does not prevent any non-elect sinner from coming or willing to be saved. God will act savingly toward any who choose to seek him and come to him for salvation (Rom. 10:13; Eph. 1:4; Rev. 22:17).

Propitiation. Christ alone propitiated God for the crime of sin. Propitiation is the satisfaction Christ made to God for sin by dying on the cross. 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 (unlimited atonement/propitiation). The application of Christ’s merit to overcome the demerit of sin and save a soul is applied through the election God decreed before he created the universe, and is personally applied by each sinner through saving faith in Christ in response to God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation (limited redemption). Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the saved sinner so that he/she eternally stands uncondemned before a holy God, Rom. 8:31.

Salvation is when God rescues a sinner out of the state of spiritual death and delivers him or her into a permanent state of spiritual life. Salvation is the remission of sin’s guilt and penalty by the application of Christ’s infinite merit, which is gained by receiving God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation through the means of personal faith in God’s revealed means (way) of salvation. In this New Testament age salvation occurs when a sinner repents of his or her sins and believes on Christ as their Savior: Acts 2:38; 3:19–20; 11:18; Rom. 3:22–26; 10:9–10, 13; Gal. 3:22; 1 Pet. 1:21; 1 John 3:23.

Justification. A believer is permanently positionally justified in Christ: declared not guilty in Christ, Rom. 8:1. In salvation the believer is freed from the penalty of sin, the dominion (power) of sin, the desire for and pleasure of committing sin, and at death (or rapture) from the presence of sin, for eternity. At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in the believer’s soul, John 14:17; Acts 10:44–48; 1 Cor. 6:19, regenerating human nature. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the now-believing sinner, and a new principle of life, holiness, is added to the believer, Eph. 4:24, becoming the dominating principle in his/her human nature, 1 Thess. 4:7; 1 Cor. 3:17b; Col. 3:12; 1 Pet. 1:15–16. The believer has been empowered to say “No,” to temptation to sin, and enforce that choice.

Sanctification. A believer is permanently positionally sanctified in Christ: declared holy in Christ. A believer is called to experiential sanctification: personal holiness and righteousness of life and to perform and maintain good works which God has prepared beforehand (Eph. 1:4; 2:10; 2:21; 5:26; Rom. 12:1; Titus 2:14; 3:8). He/she is empowered to resist sin’s temptations, live a holy life, understand the Scripture, worship, obey, fellowship with, and serve God. God hears and answers his/her prayers, and he/she perseveres by faith in the faith to lead a holy life, looking toward resurrection and eternal life in God’s presence.

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

Perseverance. The saved are kept eternally saved by the merit of Christ in the covenant between the Father and the Son that formed the New Testament church, Heb. 2:11–13; 10:9, 14, 17–18. God gives the grace of perseverance to overcome all spiritual and physical obstacles to faith and thereby believers continue by faith in the faith all the way through the end of physical life and into eternity. Believers are those persons who receive and use the God-given grace of perseverance. Those who do not persevere in the faith by faith were never saved. (Heb. 10:12, 14; Eph. 2:8–9; John 10:9, 27–29; Rom. 4:22–25; 5:1, 10–11, 18–19; 8:1; Heb. 10:17–18.)

The unsaved. Sinners who reject Christ throughout their mortal life are eternally lost. (Rom. 5:12–21; 1 Cor. 2:14; Rev 20:15). Their location after physical death is hades, there to wait in constant torment until the Great White Throne judgment (Luke 16:23; Rev. 20:11–15).

Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

Expositor’s Bible Commentary 2-volume Set

In this review, we are looking at a very helpful tool for both teachers and students of the Holy Scripture, the 2-Volume Expositor’s Bible Commentary Abridged Set from Zondervan Academic. Zondervan provided a copy of this set free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give positive feedback, just honest feedback; my opinions are my own.

 

 

additional photos

From the publisher:

Based on the critically acclaimed, Gold Medallion-winning Expositor’s Bible Commentary used by pastors, students, and scholars across the world, this two-volume abridged edition offers you the full, penetrating, verse-by-verse commentary of the 12-volume series while leaving out needless technical details. Marshalling the knowledge of fifty-two top biblical scholars, it brings tremendous insight to your Bible studies.

Covering the Old and New Testaments in separate volumes, this commentary features:

  • Verse-by-verse exposition of the entire Bible
  • 250 in-text charts, maps, tables, and pictures
  • Goodrick/Kohlenberger numbers for cross-referencing the Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordanceand other G/K-numbered resources

 

Translation Used

Naturally, this commentary set is based on the New International Version. Zondervan is the primary publisher of the NIV in the United States so it is a logical choice for Zondervan Academic to base its resources on the NIV.

Goodrick & Kohlenberger’s Numbers

If you are familiar with Strong’s Numbers, which are most often paired with the KJV, you will immediately be familiar with these numbers. These serve as a gateway to study of the NIV text for expository purposes.

You will find these numbers in the NIV Exhaustive Concordance, NIV Concise Concordance and, my personal favorite tool, the NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible, along wth many other study resources. I would rate this as my favorite feature of this commentary set primarly because they link excellent commentary with a broad spectrum of tools to give a very well rounded understanding of the text of Holy Scripture.

Book Introductions

The Introductions are fairly similar to those in the NIV Study Bible. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you had this set along with the NIV Study Bible, you might well be able to forego the full 12-volume set. While there is no outline provided, the introductions are not lacking in any way because of that fact.When perusing the Book Introductions, you will find both historical and theological background information. Rather than approaching the Theological Background information from a Systematic Theology Standpoint, we actually look at theology from a Biblical Theology (more of a global theology) perspective.

There is also a treatment of author, intended audience, date/place/time of the book’s composition including, as I mentioned earlier, historical background information.

Though not in the introduction proper, there is also a section called the Old Testament in the New which displays the NT use of OT Passages. It is available for each book of the Bible and I would rate it as the second most important feature of the commentary set. Why? We can sometimes see Scripture in a disjointed manner and this section helps to bring the Bible into view as a unified cohesive unit.

The Commentary Itself

As I was working with this set, I noticed a very interesting feature: Though there is no outline provided, the commentary is laid out in the format of a detailed expository outline. This layout is very similar to what Dr. Wiersbe did with his Expository Outlines of the Old and New Testaments but in more detail.

It is a hybrid of a verse by verse and paragraph exposition. Following section headings found in the NIV, the commentary takes a section at a time and provides exposition on the text.

This is, absolutely, a seminary grade commentary but at the same time it is very approachable. It is conservative without being afraid to treat alternative viewpoints. It is geared primarily toward the pastor-teacher but will serve any student of the Bible very well.

Ancillary Tools

Maps, charts, tables, and photos all add to the explanation of the text. It is clear that, with these tools, Zondervan Academic has considered that a huge portion of our learning occurs with visual aids.

The Physical Book

Both volumes are hard cover with what is commonly called book paper. It is not overly thick but it is sufficiently opaque for marking in the text.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with NIV Tools

This commentary pairs very well with several NIV tools but I want to call out a few, here:

NIV Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible

I touched on this earlier, but the inclusion of the Goodrick/Kohlenberger Numbers, the HGK study Bible lends itself perfectly to exposition of the text

NIV Study Bible

Zondervan’s premier exegetical resource, the NIV Study Bible offers a gateway to expository commentaries. The materials in the two tools complement each other very well. There is information in the NIVSB that is not in the commentary and the commentary takes the expositional notes in the study Bible to a much deeper and, I think, more helpful level.

NIV Text or Reference Bible

This commentary set is sufficiently detailed that it can stand alone with a Bible that does not include exegetical study aids.

Final Thoghts

I am impressed with the amount of help that Zondervan included in this “abridged” commentary set. It does not feel abridged at all. In fact, had I never seen its 12 volume big sister, I would not find anything lacking in this set. Truth be told, I do not find anything lacking now. I would like a bit larger font and, perhaps, some lined notes pages with each book but those are matters of personal preference.

I would recommend this, first and foremost, for a Sunday School Teacher. Many churches do not realize the vital role that Sunday School plays in developing the members of the church and so Sunday School Teachers are, often, not very well equipped. In fact, this particular commentary is so helpful for teaching the Bible that I would recommend that each church have a copy in their library so that teachers with limited financial means are able to access the resources provided.

To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

To Be A Christian: An Anglican Catechism

In 2019, I began to take an interest in Anglicanism, so I was absolutely delighted to be able review the Catechism from The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and Crossway which is entitled, To Be a Christian: an Anglican Catechism. {They provided a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own, I was not asked for a positive review, just an honest one.)

Photos of To Be a Christian

 

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To Be a Christian is noteworthy not simply for being a very easily understood catechism but also because it is one of the final projects undertaken by the late theological and pastoral titan, the Most Reverend J.I. Packer. Had you ever read anything by Dr. Packer you would understand the enthusiasm I have for this work. Dr. Packer served as the Theological Editor of this work and his fingerprints are everywhere.

 

The Book

The physical book, itself, is muted. It is black cloth over board with gold foil stamping on the cover. Like the other two catechisms I own, the book draws no attention to itself and instead uses its content to draw attention to the Lord of the Church. The paper is soft white with a black letter text. It would appear that Crossway has even sewn the binding in this simple catechism so that it would be very durable for on the go carry.

 

It is currently available in hardcover and e-book formats. I would love to see To Be a Christian available in either a top grain leather or goatskin for use in the pulpit.

 

The Content

You might think that To Be a Christian simply contains an Anglican Catechism but you would be wrong.

 

We open with a section called “Beginning with Christ.” This introduction to the catechism lays out the Gospel in plain simple English, so simple in fact that if you had never seen a Bible but had access to this book, you would still be able to repent of sin. Following the Gospel Presentation, To Be a Christian begins to catechize with the section on Salvation. To veteran Christians, such as myself, this may seem a bit obvious. The reality, however, is that there is nothing more important for a Christian to understand than the concept of Redemption from Sin and so the pastors who composed this catechism begin us there.

 

There are 368 total questions and answers so that you have one question and answer for family worship for every day of the year.

 

The Creeds

Appendices 3 and 4 contain the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, the two foundational Creeds of Christianity. While there is not a guide or suggestion on using the Creeds, my recommendation is to recite them at least once per week in family worship

 

Catechetical Liturgy

There are some samples of liturgy to use for formal catechism classes in the Church. For those of us outside of the Anglican Communion, formal catechism usage may be an unnerving concept but I would encourage you not to fear. Catechism classes unify the church around the essentials of the faith.

 

Pairing with the Bible

The catechism offering Scripture references, I recommend pairing with the Bible, but not just any Bible- I recommend that it be paired with the ESV Bible with Creeds and Confessions. The ESV with Creeds and Confessions not only includes the 30 Articles of Religion, it also gives the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the Definition of Chalcedon.

 

When reading the Catechism, it is always advisable to turn to the Scriptures and read the references provided for each question and answer.

 

Real Life Usage

The audience, here at Exploring the Truth, are mostly Anglican and Baptist and we have been providing the Anglican Catechism daily while our sister ministry, Abounding Grace Baptist Church provides the Baptist Catechism.

 

It is a sad reality that many professing Christians have no real clue as to what the Christian Faith entails nor are they familiar with teachings that the Church has handed down through the centuries. Using this catechism will help to build a strong foundation upon which to stand as the days grow ever more wicked.

 

Final Thoughts

The importance of a catechism cannot be overstated. If you have never had a catechism, I commend this one to you. The Anglican Communion has stood for nearly 600 years and will continue to stand, built on the rock of Scripture and guided by faithful catechisms.

Leviticus Essentials

Leviticus Essentials

The message

The holy God makes his people holy, calls them to be holy, and provides atonement through blood when they are not.

Storyline

When Christ died on the cross for sinners, there was no longer any need for the Levitical system of blood sacrifice. Indeed, Leviticus was pointing toward this ultimate sacrifice all along, though the Israelites were not yet ready to hear about Jesus’ atoning death. They needed first to understand the requirements of a holy God, the depth of their waywardness, and their desperate need for a Savior. They would also, one day, come to understand that salvation extended to all the peoples of the earth—a revelation made emphatically at Pentecost in Acts 2.

It is important to understand that key elements of the moral teaching in Leviticus are timeless; as applicable today as they were then—for instance, regarding the sanctity of marriage, the demands of justice, and the call for compassion. Today, as in Moses’ time, those who would walk with God must agree with Him about what constitutes sin and repent of that sin. But now we trust in the death and resurrection of Christ, and not the slaughter of animals, to cover that sin and free us from judgment.

KEYS TO LEVITICUS

Key Word: Holiness—Leviticus centers on the concept of the holiness of God and how an unholy people can acceptably approach Him and then remain in continued fellowship. The way to God is only through blood sacrifice, and the walk with God is only through obedience to His laws.

Key Verses: Leviticus 17:11; 20:7, 8—“‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul’” (17:11).

“Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the LORD who sanctifies you” (20:7, 8).

Key Chapter: Leviticus 16—The Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”) was the most important single day in the Hebrew calendar as it was the only day the high priest entered into the Most Holy Place to “make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD” (16:30).

KEY THEMES

Holy priests

God permitted only certain people to work in the tabernacle. These people were priests, Aaron’s descendants (Numbers 3:10), to offer sacrifices and Levites, Levi’s descendants, to assist them (Numbers 3:5-9). Priests, ordained for their work (8:1-9:24), stood between sinful people and holy God.

Christ alone is now our High Priest (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1; 4:14-5:10; 10:19-23) and so we need no other. All Christians are now priests (eg 1 Peter 2:4-10).

Holy sacrifices

What made these sacrifices different was that they were not people’s gifts to the gods (like in other religions), but God’s gift to them (17:11). This was God’s way of dealing with sin. Adam and Eve had tried to hide sin (Genesis 3:7-11); sacrifice brought it into the open.

The sinner killed the sacrifice himself (eg 1:3-5; 3:1-2), underlining that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The priest then took its blood to the altar (eg 1:5; 3:2) to “make atonement” (eg 1:4; 4:20). The Hebrew word means “to cover”. It is only as sins are covered or dealt with that sinners can approach a Holy God and become “at one” with him.

Sacrifices were always:

Animals (eg 1:2; 4:3), substituting for humans through the laying-on of hands (eg 1:4) Male (eg 1:3; 4:3), underlining the cost because males, with their breeding potential, were more valuable Perfect (eg 1:3; 4:3), reflecting God’s perfection and that only the best was good enough.

The inadequacy of these sacrifices, however, was shown by the Day of Atonement (16:1-34) when atonement was made for the nation’s sins. The high priest killed one goat, sprinkling its blood on the ark in the Most Holy Place (which he could enter only once a year), and then laid hands on a second goat, confessing the people’s sins and sending it into the desert. Through these two aspects – wiping away and sending away – the assurance of God’s forgiveness was declared.

Holy living

Much of Leviticus concerns the way that God wanted his people to live – different (the meaning of “holy”) from those around. No area of life was exempt – worship, health, work, sex, attitudes, justice, business – all expressions of the command to “love your neighbour as yourself” (19:18)

Key Doctrines in Leviticus

Sacrifice —God required sacrifices from the people to atone for sin (1:3,9–13; 16:3; 17:8; 19:5; Exodus 29:34; Deuteronomy 16:5–6; Judges 11:31; Psalm 66:13–15; Matthew 5:23–24; Romans 8:3; 12:1; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2)

Holiness —the attribute that encapsulates God’s perfect character; Israel was called to be holy as God is holy (11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; 21:6–8; Exodus 6:7; 19:6; Psalm 22:3; 99:5; Isaiah 41:14–16; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:14–16)

Offerings —forms of worship to God, to give expression of the penitent and thankful heart (1:1–17; 2:1–16; 3:1–17; 4:1–5:13; 5:14–6:7; Genesis 4:4–5; Deuteronomy 16:10; 1 Kings 18:33–40; Job 42:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Timothy 4:6)

Israel as God’s holy nation —the people through whom Christ would enter the world (26:42–46; Genesis 15:12–21; Exodus 19:5–6; 2 Samuel 7:13; 23:5; Hebrews 8:6–13)

God’s Character in Leviticus

God is accessible —16:12–15

God is glorious —9:6,23

God is holy —11:44–45

God is wrathful —10:2

Christ in Leviticus

God’s explicit instructions about offerings within Leviticus point towards the final substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. Because the sacrifices of the people represented only temporary removal of Israel’s sins, they needed to be repeated continually. Jesus lived a perfect life on earth and presented Himself as the final sacrifice for all humankind. In contrast to the Old Testament Passover feast celebrated annually, believers constantly celebrate the “feast” of the new Passover—Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Key Words in Leviticus

Offering: Hebrew qorban —2:3; 4:35; 6:18; 7:14,33; 9:4; 10:14—this Hebrew word is derived from the verb “to bring near” and literally means “that which one brings near to God.” The fact that the Israelites could approach to present their gifts to God reveals His mercy. Even though the people were sinful and rebellious, God instituted a sacrificial system in which they could reconcile themselves to Him. The sacrifices foreshadowed Jesus’ death on the cross, the ultimate offering, the offering that ended the need for any others. Through Christ’s sacrificial death, we have once for all been reconciled to God (Hebrews 10:10–18). An appropriate response to Jesus’ death for us is to offer our lives as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1).

Memorial Portion: Hebrew ‘azkarah —2:2,9,16; 5:12; 6:15; 23:24; 24:7—a memorial portion of a grain offering was a representative portion burnt on the altar in place of the whole amount. The rest was a gift to the priest, to support him in his ministry. The word for memorial portion is related to the Hebrew verb zakar , which means “to remember.” It signifies the worshiper’s remembering of God’s gracious character and generosity, especially God’s remembering and blessing of the worshiper.

Blood: Hebrew dam —1:5; 3:17; 4:7; 8:15; 9:9; 16:18; 17:10; 20:11—related to the Hebrew word ‘adom , which means “red” (Genesis 25:30) and refers to blood. This may be the blood of animals (Exodus 23:18) or human beings (Genesis 4:10). The word blood may also represent a person’s guilt, as in the phrase “his blood shall be upon him”; that is, he is responsible for his own guilt (20:9). The Old Testament equates life with blood (Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23), which vividly illustrates the sanctity of human life (Genesis 9:6). According to the New Testament, “without shedding of blood there is no remission” of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Thus the emphasis on blood in the Old Testament sacrifices pointed to the blood that Christ would shed, i.e., the life that He would give on our behalf (Romans 5:9; 1 Corinthians 11:25–26).

Jubilee: Hebrew yobel —25:9,12,30,40,54; 27:18,24—literally means “ram” or “ram’s horn” (Exodus 19:13; Joshua 6:5). The term is associated with the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:10 and Numbers 36:4. The fiftieth year was a “jubilee” year for the Hebrews, marked by the blowing of a trumpet (25:9). During that year, the Israelites were instructed to practice freedom and liberty: debts were canceled; slaves were freed; the land rested; family property was redeemed (25:10–17). The fact that Jesus quoted Isaiah 48:8,9 seems to indicate that Jesus equated His earthly ministry with the principles of the Year of Jubilee (Luke 4:18–19).

Teaching Outline

I.

HOW TO MAKE OFFERINGS

1–10

A. The Sacrifices Required

1–7

B. The Priests Ordained

8–10

II.

HOW TO KEEP RITUALLY CLEAN

11–15

III.

HOW TO MAKE ATONEMENT FOR ALL

16

IV.

HOW TO LIVE HOLY LIVES

17–22

A. Rules for Everyone

17–20

B. Rules for Priests

21–22

V.

HOW TO WORSHIP GOD

23–27

A. Celebrating His Presence

23:1–24:9

B. Serving His Purposes

24:10–27:34

NLT Giant Print Bible Review

NLT Giant Print Bible Review

 

The NLT Giant Print Reference Bible brings one of the most helpful English translations of the Bible to one of the most helpful formats, giant print. Before we continue the review, Tyndale House Publishers provided this Bible free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one, and my opinions are my own.

 

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The Translation

NLT is often confused with its predecessor, The Living Bible Paraphrased, but NLT is an actual translation. It is a Dynamic Equivalence Translation (Meaning Based). NLT usese the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia Hebrew Text and the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition and was translated by a team of 95 scholars across several denominations.

The English used is around 4th-6th Grade reading level. It is incredibly readable, making it one of the three best selling English translations of the Bible. In fact, it is one of the top two, rivalling NIV.

Is NLT good for teaching? Believe it or not, yes. Two-thirds of the world’s 800,000,000 English speakers have it as a second language. It is wonderful for teaching, so much so, that Oasis International, a ministry focused on resourcing African Christians, exclusively uses it

Cover and Binding

The edition that I am reviewing is teal leathersoft (a type of imitation leather) with a sewn binding and a paste down liner. The cover has a medium stiffness and is easy to hold in the hand,

Font

This is one of the largest fonts I have seen in a bible. It is a 14-point font on par with the monstrous Lexington font in the Giant Print ESV from Crossway. In the NLT, I have not encountered a more readable font. Tyndale really hit a sweet spot with the font size.

The black letter portions are very well done, a deep rich ebony. I hate to complain, it feels so ungrateful, but the red ink leaves a little to be desired. The red is not dim but it is not as dark as I would prefer. In the pulpit it does pose a little difficulty as the overhead lights tend to be severe and they cause the red letters to look faded out. On the other hand, in my reading chair, I had no issues. It is adequate for most situations but in the pulpit a black letter is preferable.

Paper and layout

I am not aware of an NLT in a verse-by-verse setting and this is no exception. This is a text only Bible laid out in paragraph format. There are no references at all but translation foot notes are provided at the bottom of the page. A solid black line separates the two columns of text with chapter numbers being very bold.

The paper is much improved over earlier editions. There is a tiny amount of show through but nowhere near as bad as in earlier editions. If you are going to mark, I recommend using Prismacolor brand colored pencils. In most Bibles you will get a good color without show through. The paper is bright white and it is very easy to turn the pages.

As a carry/reading Bibles

The Giant Print NLT is a 6”x9” Bible so it is considered full size. Is is relatively portable. Naturally, it is quite readable

For preaching and teaching

For the most part this does well for teaching and preaching. That being said, we must be candid and tell you that the type of lighting available will impact utility as a preaching and teaching Bible. There may be some fade out on the red letters.

Other Observations

There are no helps other than the translation footnotes and maps. A single teal ribbon marker is included for you to mark your progress in your reading plan. Bonded leather and thumb-indexed editions are available but I cannot find whether or not a black letter only edition exists.

Should you buy this Bible?

I cannot see any reason why not. Tyndale is really improving the quality of their Bibles as global adoption grows. I always recommend that teachers get the largest font which is practical for them and this Bible will fit the bill nicely.

 

 

 

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.

Why Standard Lesson?

Why Standard Lesson?

I recommend resources from Standard Lesson on, at the very least, a monthly basis and I am, often asked why. The question goes like this “Matt, I’m seminary trained, why should I use Standard Lesson?” or “Matt, Standard Lesson isn’t from your denomination, why do you recommend something that isn’t Baptist?”

I would like to offer some answers to those questions:

 

  1. The material is very easy to understand and is accessible to most audience members. I am not seminary trained and neither is most of your audience. (I have acquired a seminary grade understanding of Scripture via self-study of a host of resources plus I am mentored by several men, two of whom are seminary professors.) When we amass great learning we can miss the forest because of the trees. Standard Lesson’s resources remind me to keep it simple when I teach.

 

  1. It is very theologically conservative and broadly evangelical. When you read the commentary notes, the study Bible notes or other resources, you can see that the writers take Scripture seriously. Equally important, they take the command to make disciples seriously. Integral to making disciples is teaching and these resources will be most valuable in lesson prep.

 

  1. Resources are available in KJV and NIV. Standard lesson offers resources in KJV for the most staunchly conservative and the NIV for those desiring a more broadly evangelical audience. KJV and NIV are the two most widely read English translations of the Bible and pairing resources with those translations ensure that you are able to reach the most people possible.

 

  1. It takes the fear out of teaching. The Standard Lesson Commentary not only provides expositional commentary on the Scripture, it also provides a complete lesson for those who are new to teaching. The Standard Lesson Study Bible provides expository notes on the Scripture AND it adds discussion questions. The Standard Bible Dictionary provides insight on 2,000 foundational terms your students should be familiar with.

 

  1. There is a Uniform Series. The Standard Lesson Commentary follows the International Sunday School Lesson Uniform Series. This is important because on any given Sunday, churches around the world are teaching the same lesson. You can, literally, walk into any Sunday School that uses Standard Lesson Commentary and pick up right where you left off. Additionally, the Standard Lesson Commentary will take you through every book of the Bible in 6 years, not every single verse but you will get every book.

 

There are more reasons to choose Standard Lesson Resources but these are the reasons I give when I recommend Standard Lesson to pastoral colleagues and Sunday School Teachers

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

 

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The very popular Serendipity Bible for Personal and Small Group Study has made a comeback with the Christian Standard Bible in the Life Connections Study Bible. (Holman Bible Publishers 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.)

I am admittedly new to the Serendipity Bible so we will begin with a little from the publisher:

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible is are a revised and updated version of the best-selling and renowned Serendipity Study Bible. The original Serendipity Study Bible was the culmination of 40 years of community building by Serendipity House Publishers, which revolutionized small groups and personal study through thousands of accessible questions and study helps throughout the Bible.

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible includes thousands of questions and study helps for all 1,189 chapters of the Bible – all updated for today’s readers. This Bible includes short chapter-by-chapter comments about key people, places, and events along with guidance for small group Bible study and personal reflection through the “Open-Consider-Apply” method:

  • Open” questions initiate discussion and/or reflection
  • Consider” questions focus on the details of the passage
  • Apply” questions encourage application to daily life
  • Also included are select “For Groups,” “For Worship,” and “Dig Deeper” questions for further study, reflection, discussion, and application.

 

Translation

The Life Connections Study Bible uses the Christian Standard Bible, a natural choice since Lifeway acquired Serendipity House Publishers. CSB is a mediating translation- it is literal when it needs to be but still very readable.  I am currently using the Christian Standard Bible for preaching and teaching.

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the brown leathersoft edition. It is a very convincing imitation leather. Naturally, there is a paste down liner. Most CSB Bibles include a sewn binding and this one is no exception. The sewn binding provides two very nice features: it lays flat very easily and it also makes it fairly floppy and easy to use one handed.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is very interesting; it has a different tactile feel than other CSB Bibles that I have felt. It has a little bit of a newsprint feel. The paper is nicely opaque and should provide no issue with annotating. As is most often the case, I recommend ball-point pen, colored pencil, or mechanical pencil.

The text of Scripture is laid out in a single column paragraph format. Verse numbers are fairly opaque which makes verse finding fairly easy, especially so if you are teaching in a small group. The notes are a little smallish and are laid out in four columns at the bottom of the page. They are separated from the text by a single bold line. A chapter summary is provided for each chapter of the Bible, set off in a green box. Bible study content is in the outer margin on each page.

The font is a black letter text. It is approximately 9.5-point font for the Bible text. Bible study content and commentary notes are about a 7-point font. Perhaps 8-point.

Content

Study Questions

This study Bible includes ready-made discussion and study questions for every chapter of the Bible. Some chapters include more than one study and set of questions. There’s an opening question (or ice breaker), some Scripture-driven questions for consideration, and some application questions, all based on the chapter in which the questions are found. Where appropriate, there are also questions for worship, group activities, and digging deeper in Bible study. May of my colleagues are not fans of the “Discussion Model,” and I understand that but there are benefits to this model. The discussion and study questions are designed to help your small group study to think through the process of understanding the text.

Study Guides

There are 16 topical study courses, 60 life needs courses, and 200 Bible stories available for study. The beautiful feature about these additional studies is that they simply point to selected chapter studies in the Bible. Understanding sacred Scripture is the driving force behind every lesson and every study. While that may seem like an obvious statement you would be amazed at just exactly how much “Christian content” not actually geared toward a true understanding and internalization of the Scripture. Next to each lesson is the Scripture from where the lesson draws Truth and the page number where the questions for that chapter are found. A life needs study on sexuality points to specific chapters from which to draw the Texts and questions. Bonus: all the 60 life needs studies have beginner and advanced options and all of them depend on the Scripture with margin questions from the chapters.

Introductions

Each book has a one page introduction covering Author, Date of Writing, Theme, and Historical Background of the Book. I would have liked to see a small outline of some kind.

Is anything missing?

An earlier edition from Serendipity House, the Interactive Study Bible, was in the same format but had Lectionary Readings. I would have liked to see Holman include lectionary readings for those denominations which follow them, such as our Anglican Brethren.

The earlier edition also included options for personal readings and group study readings. There was also a brief comment on the Modern Message of each book.  (How does the message apply to Christians today.)

Overall Impression

I am fairly impressed with the Life Connections Study Bible. There are a couple of features that I would have liked to see come forward into the new edition but all in all it looks to be as helpful as it is interesting. I will most likely write a use case study as I am able to put it through its paces in church.

Who should buy this Bible?

The Life Connections Bible is ideally suited to the small group leader or, perhaps, the Sunday School Teacher. Even if one does not utilize the “Discussion Model” for teaching, the discussion questions will be most helpful.