Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

Reading the Bible

From the ESV Study Bible

To read the Bible “theologically” means to read the Bible “with a focus on God”: his being, his character, his words and works, his purpose, presence, power, promises, and precepts. The Bible can be read from different standpoints and with different centers of interest, but this article seeks to explain how to read it theologically.

The Bible: The Church's Instruction Book

All 66 books of the Bible constitute the book of the Christian church. And the church, both as a whole and in the life of its members, must always be seen to be the people of the book. This glorifies God, its primary author.

God has chosen to restore his sin-spoiled world through a long and varied historical process, central to which is the creating—by redemptive and sanctifying grace—of what is literally a new human race. This unfinished process has so far extended over four millennia. It began with Abraham; it centers on the first coming of the incarnate Lord, Jesus Christ; and it is not due for completion till he comes again. Viewed as a whole, from the vantage point of God's people within it, the process always was and still is covenantal and educative. Covenantal indicates that God says to his gathered community, “I am your God; you shall be my people,” and with his call for loyalty he promises them greater future good than any they have yet known. Educative indicates that, within the covenant, God works to change each person's flawed and degenerate nature into a new, holy selfhood that expresses in responsive terms God's own moral likeness. The model is Jesus Christ, the only perfect being that the world has ever seen. For God's people to sustain covenantal hopes and personal moral ideals as ages pass and cultures change and decay, they must have constant, accessible, and authoritative instruction from God. And that is what the Bible essentially is.

This is why, as well as equipping everywhere a class of teachers who will give their lives to inculcating Bible truth, the church now seeks to translate the Bible into each person's primary language and to spread universal literacy, so that all may read and understand it.

Learn to "Be Still"

This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship president Mark Earley.

It’s hard to believe, but school is just a few weeks away. And you know what that means—hauling children to and from classes, dance lessons, music lessons, sports practice, homework, church activities, and on and on. It's no wonder that many parents (not to mention their children) get worn out

Busyness is a problem all of us face. In fact, a 2007 study asked over 20,000 teens and adults if "the busyness of life gets in the way of developing [their] relationship with God." The response? Six in 10 Christians said they are too busy for God.

Are you? That's the question which Ann Kroeker poses in her new book, Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families.

Of all the groups most affected by the busyness epidemic—perhaps the American family has been the worst hit. A self-assumed pressure to make sure the children get every opportunity to give them an edge academically, socially, physically, and even spiritually, pushes us to push them. But somewhere in the process, something is getting buried. And it might just be our souls. Read More...

Homework 2010-2011

Sometimes I am asked if there is homework for our class. The answer is yes and the assignments fall into three specific categories.

Homework Assignment #1 - Read through the entire Bible
We are presently reading through a 52 week Bible reading plan that gives a specific section of Bible reading on a daily basis.
So for the person that wants to know, what is the homework for the day, I first want to point them to Bible reading plan. Recent church statistics show that over 90% of those within the church have not read through the Bible at least one time. It is harder to teach when there is not an understanding of the Scriptures as a whole. One of the key components the church is missing today in Bible study is being able to see the big picture connection from Genesis to Revelation. In the first month of our class we covered many different aspects of the Bible. One morning I asked the class, "who is the author of Genesis?" Someone spoke up and said "Moses" to which I replied "that is correct."
Then I repeated the question a different way and asked "who is the real Author of Genesis?" At that point someone else spoke up and said "the Holy Spirit" to which I replied "that is correct." So even though the Bible is composed of 66 books with over 40 different authors, there is one mind and one Author that is connecting it all together.

Therefore we should ask questions and know things like; how is Genesis connected to Revelation, Job to Romans, 1 Samuel to Luke? Getting the overall big picture of the Bible is like putting together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. We have all learned that the best way to put together this kind of puzzle in to find all the border pieces first. But not only that, we need to have a picture of the box top. By reading the Bible over and over you are getting the picture of the box top and as you learn Bible doctrine that starts to set the border pieces in place. Over the years I have found many in the church don't understand the following two big picture items in regard to the Bible;

1. What is the overall theme of the entire Bible?
2. What is the overall organizing plan that God has set out from Genesis to Revelation?

Again as in the illustration of the jigsaw puzzle these two items above are like the box top. As you read and re-read the Bible you will start to develop a solid understanding as to the unity of the Scriptures. I am a proponent of exegetical Bible study in which you study individual books of the Bible. But I have found it most helpful instead of picking up a piece of the puzzle and observing it and studying each of the aspects of the puzzle piece, we need to have a good picture of the box top that we study first.

Running the race

The race begins

Heb. 12:1 ¶ Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

The Christian life can be likened to that of a marathon and not a sprint. During the last two years in our class we have been warming up, doing the proper stretching and loading up on carbs the night before the race. In August we are going into full marathon mode. If you haven't yet received your runners number and entrance registration form then please apply today. During the race you can expect Bible reading that will take you through the Bible in one year, Bible devotions that hopefully you will be sharing with the family on a weekly basis and Bible doctrine that needs to be learned and lived. This is an appeal to all who are part of our SS community to get into the race! Don't be casual about your Christian life! Jesus says in Revelation 3:16 ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. A.W. Tozer writes that the thoughts you think about God are the more important thoughts you will ever have. If I could add anything to that statement I would say the most important thing are "correct" thoughts about God.

So why do we need a laser like focus on the Doctrine of God? Well, unfortunately in our culture many have created a god that is not the God of the Bible. The goal as we launch in August will be to provide a clear, concise and hermeneutically sound foundation as we study the God of the Bible. Read carefully what Jesus prays in John 17:3 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. So it is very important that we know the God of the Bible by correctly knowing what the word of God reveals to us about Him.

Sunday's class

This past Sunday I gave an overall summary of the 66 books in the Bible. The conclusion of the class on Sunday was the theme for the entire Bible which I believe to be "The Glory of God." My recommendation is that you read through these notes during the week. If I were to give a test, the questions from this past Sunday’s notes would be as follows:

  • Give me the structure or an outline of the Old Testament and the New Testament
  • Define the glory of God, give Scripture to support it and provide for me an illustration

Review for July 25

This morning we continued in our summer teaching series called Reviewing the Basics. The goal this morning was to see the unity of Scripture. Unfortunately we ran out of time before I could cover the notes on the theme of the Bible which is the glory of God. Please take some time this week to read through the notes. The homework assignment is to:
  • Define the word glory
  • Give Scriptural support for the glory of God as the theme of the Bible
  • Illustrate the glory of God for a 10 year old to understand
  • Discuss the application for your life
Additional study notes are included that will help and encourage you in “how to” study the Bible.

SBS Class July 252010

Summer 2010

The fall launch for our class in on August 22. I want to warn you up front that we are going to be moving at a fast pace regarding the doctrine of God. Therefore I am taking the time this summer to review as best we can with some of the important basics for Bible study from the past two years.

I want to appeal to each of you as part of our class leadership to be in prayer for the coming year. In the 2010 and 2011 year, Lord willing, we are going to cover

Doctrine of God
Doctrine of man
Doctrine of Christ

And when we get into the Spring we again will take our 5 weeks and "march to the cross." As you know by now this will be an extensive look and study into the various doctrines of salvation. I am hoping again to cover justification, regeneration, sanctification, propitiation, redemption and resurrection. My goal is for you to know definitions, Scripture support and illustrations to the point that you could explain each of these to a 10 year old.

If you are interested in a more detailed format of the teaching for the 2010-2011 year then simply click on this LINK and scroll to pages 2-4.

Summer teaching series "The Basics of sound Bible study"

Introduction to the Basics

We cannot understate the importance of the basics in our overall life. This goes all the way back to our earliest learning in grade school when we had to learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Later on I would go into sports and I can remember all of the practice hours that I put in on the basketball and tennis court. The majority of that time was not in playing the game but in drilling the basics so that we could play and win the game. Then I got married got a job and quickly started to learn the basics of how to manage our finances as a couple. I remember one of the first lessons I received from Nancy's father who was a very successful entrepreneur, who said to me "learn to live at a lifestyle that is less than you earn and invest the difference." When I became a Christian the gentleman who discipled me the first 3 years taught me the basics of Bible study. We talked almost every single day except for Sunday's and it was constantly reinforced that I must learn the basics of sound Bible study.

And those basics were divided for me into 2 main areas.

  • The Heart
  • The Head

Even though I have spent time going into both of these in the past year I never want to wander far from these important principles of Bible study. So allow me in this newsletter to review with you and for you the importance of the heard and the head in Bible study. Read More...

Review for July 18

SBS Class July 182010

On Sunday I had planned to cover briefly the theme of the Bible and then start on the plan from Genesis to Revelation. However instead I went through some of the details in Scripture when studying a word. For example I went back to the verse in Ephesians 2:8 and looked at the verb saved. Again the point was the importance of verbs and how the tense, voice and mood are critical to the meaning. Then I mentioned the two key reasons that people don’t study the Bible which have to do with the heart and the head. I have also included these two things in the notes with Scripture illustrations.

By the way a quick outline for this system of Biblical Hermeneutics is as follows:
  • Author’s Background
  • Theme
  • Plan
  • Context
  • Words
  • Grammar

All of the above items fit within the umbrella called the unity of Scripture. As you can read in the study notes I compare the unity of Scripture with that of a jigsaw puzzle. There are two things that are needed in order to put the puzzle pieces together. First you need a border and I am calling that Bible Doctrine. And then you need a Box Top in order to see the whole puzzle as to what you are putting together. I am calling the Box Top the theme and plan of the Bible.

My plan this coming week is to look at the theme and plan of the entire Bible. Hope to see you on Sunday

Why a transformed life IS NOT proof of salvation

Before you pick up the stones read the following article. My background as some of you know is business consulting rooted in the self help movement of men like Eric Berne, Napoleon Hill, Maxwell Maltz, and Stephen Covey just to name a few. Each one of these men wrote and taught methods and philosophies that were and are very life transformational for their students. In light of that kind of thinking which has influenced the American church, I came across this excellent blog article by Daniel Neades.

Many religions transform lives. Mormonism has produced zealous clean-living converts who would put most evangelicals to shame in their general moral conduct. And radical Islam certainly transforms the lives of those who decide to become suicide bombers – and those of their victims.

Self-help books transform lives. Here’s one not atypical comment of many concerning Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

This book changed my life. After reading this book back in 1997 my whole thinking about myself and others changed. I wish they teach this book in high school in every country in the world. Since 97 I buy this book and give it as gift to anyone I come across, especially to young people. You read it and judge it.

The religion of the Pharisees transformed lives. Yet Jesus said of them:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15, NKJV)

Clearly, Jesus didn’t approve of that particular sort of life transformation.

We should be concerned that Pharisaism, which was really all about making God’s law doable, is alive and well in far too many of today’s churches. Whenever anyone gives you five simple steps to keep God’s law (whether it is to stay out of debt, or have healthy relationships, etc.), understand that Pharisaism is the religion being offered. Likewise, when someone preaches the law and tells you to just go out and do it. But the Bible tells us that God’s law exists primarily to show us our sin – it does not have the power to make us righteous:

Review for July 11

SBS Class July 112010

It is great to be back after time away this summer. First of all I would like to thank both Allen Cleveland and Wayne Atcheson for teaching our class while Nancy and I have been gone.

I think I can speak on behalf of the leadership team and say that our main goal is to get the people of God back into the word of God, so the word of God can get back into the people of God. And the ultimate reason for this goal is for Christ to be glorified through us as we become more and more satisfied in Him.

A prayer on the 4th of July

This is from Scotty Smith at the Gospel Coalition blog site:

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the 4th of July weekend—a holiday set aside to remember and revel in the freedom we enjoy as citizens of America. Two things immediately come to mind as I think of the “4th”. I thank you for our country, as broken as she is, and for the liberties and privileges I have as a citizen of the United States. And I thank you that I escaped childhood with all my fingers, given how many fireworks I abused on and around this holiday!

But that for which I’m most grateful, as I think of the “4th” is the consummate freedom I enjoy as a citizen of heaven—as a member of the “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God… called to declare your praises, for you have called us out of darkness into your wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

To be set free by you, Jesus, is to be free indeed (John 8:36). I will gladly enjoy the accouterments of the “4th of July” this weekend. But I will resolutely stand firm… for the rest of my life… in the freedom for which you have set us, your people, free.

I praise you, Jesus, that I am free from the guilt of my sin, for you took my place on the cross, exhausting the judgment I deserve. I praise you for freedom over the power of sin, for you have broken its dominion in my life. I praise you for freedom from the fear of death, for you removed its sting and robbed the grave of its victory.

I praise you that I can now obey God from my heart, and not out of pride, pragmatics or pretense. I praise you for the freedom to come boldly to the throne of grace—into the very holy of holies, for you have secured this “new and living way” for us. I praise you for the freedom of repentance—for you have born my shame and I don’t have to pretend or pose anymore. I praise you for the freedom to risk, instead of rusting the rest of my life, for life is no longer about performance, but your praise.

Jesus, by the power of the gospel, I will seek to stand firm in these, and many more freedoms you’ve won for us, and I will seek to resist all slaveries until the Day you return to finish this magnificent “liberation suite.” Hallelujah, what a Savior you are! Hallelujah, what a salvation you freely give us! So very Amen, I pray, in your liberating and lovely name.

Devotion in Psalm 119

Courtesy of the ESV online study Bible

On Wednesday our Bible reading was in Psalm 119. The words in the image above appear over 150 times in this particular Psalm. It seems whenever I read this Psalm I am drawn to verses 33-40. (ESV)

[33] Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes;
and I will keep it to the end.
[34] Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
[35] Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
[36] Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
[37] Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.
[38] Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared.
[39] Turn away the reproach that I dread,
for your rules are good.
[40] Behold, I long for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life!

What is the focus?
The statutes of God
The law of God
The commandments of God
The testimonies of God
The ways of God
The promises of God
The precepts of God