Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

How to help children learn Bible doctrine

One of the questions I am asked is “how are we going to teach basic Bible doctrine to our children and grand children?” Well, I have an answer and it comes from a book that was written by Dr. Bruce Ware. The name of the book is Big Truths for Young Hearts and addresses how to teach Bible doctrine to your kids. This is a key area of Bible study and one that often overlooked by many parents. We may want to give this responsibility over to our youth pastors, but it is us that need to be training our children in these spiritual truths.

When we started our class over 18 months ago I wanted this website to be a good resource for any number of different areas within the Christian life. And over that period of time I have posted audios, videos, and articles along with links to number of different websites that hopefully have provided helpful information. Let me encourage you to check out this article which is an interview Justin Taylor had with Dr. Bruce Ware regarding his book. This is a tremendous resource and one that Bruce has put together from what he did to teach Bible doctrine to his own children.

Click on this LINK.

How to best understand the Bible

From the blog site of Tullian Tchividjian

Contrary to what many Christians have concluded, the Bible DOES NOT tell two stories: the story of Israel in the OT and the story of the church in the NT. No, the Bible tells one story and points to one figure: it tells the story of how God rescues a broken world and points to Christ who accomplishes this. In the OT God revealed himself through types and shadows, through promises and prophecies. In the NT God reveals himself in Christ who is the substance of every shadow and the fulfillment of every promise and prophecy. In other words, the OT predicts God’s rescuer; the NT presents God’s rescuer. Therefore, the whole Bible–both the Old and New Testament–is all about God’s rescuer. READ MORE..

Devotion time in God's word

Preach the gospel to yourself every day

In my devotion time this morning I reflected again on Romans 6:16-17. The way Paul writes in Romans 6:15-23 doesn't give us any wiggle room. He say plainly that every person is either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. There is no middle ground, it's like being pregnant you either are or you aren't. I once heard it's like shooting a shotgun you either shoot it or you don't. No one can sorta shoot a shot gun. And therefore a person can't sorta be a Christian.

The verses drove me back to the life that I had while still in Adam. As I thought more deeply on these two verses I remembered my slavery to money, greed, power, influence, social standing and status. These things not only controlled me but they were at the very center of my passions in life. Yesterday in church Rob Kelly gave a definition of an idol. He said an idol is anything that captures our hearts, praise and devotions that rightfully belong to God. In other words, these are the things that we are enslaved to instead of being enslaved to Christ.

So that led me to the next thought during my quiet time which was what happened to the old Bert. And the great thing about Romans 6 is that we can understand what happened to us in regeneration and also how that should play out in our daily lives. In Romans 6:16 there is a reference to the past. It says I was a slave to sin but at a certain point and time something happened in my life. The thing that happened is called regeneration in that my mind, heart and will were converted. Even though I wasn't fully aware of what happened here is what the Bible said took place in the life of Bert. I was transferred from the kingdom of darkness, where I was a slave to sin and under condemnation, judgement which was taking me straight to hell. But then God by His mercy and grace transferred in the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Read More...

Review for May30

SBS Class May302010

If you would like to print out the notes from this morning class simply click on this LINK.

If you would like to listen to the audio “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE” simply click on this LINK.

Coming this Sunday

This week I decided to continue teaching in Romans 6. Several comments from those in our class could be summarized as follows “don’t stop now I am starting to understand what Paul is teaching us about practical Christian living.” So with that feedback and especially in light of our Q and A sessions this month we will finish up, Lord willing, chapter 6 over the next few weeks.


The main thrust tomorrow will be a quick review of everything we have covered so far and then Romans 6:15-17.

There are 4 things to note regarding these verses:
1. There are only 2 masters, either sin or righteousness

2. These two masters are diametrically opposite of one another, difference between light and darkness, life and death, God and Satan, heaven and hell, everything that is good and pure and all that is evil and destructive

3. Because they are opposites then you can't serve both of them at once

4. Every single person is either a slave of one or the other, there is no such thing as being totally free because you are either free to sin or free to obey God

Hope to see you tomorrow as we learn and live the God-centered life

How to understand what the Bible means

Last week was the conclusion of Romans 6:1-14. But it was not the conclusion of Romans 6. This week I am planning to continue the teaching in Romans 6:15-23 which is the "doctrine of salvation."

Hopefully by the time we have come through Romans 6 you will have picked up some of the key principles in Biblical Hermeneutics. As you have heard me say on more than one occasion hermeneutics is a system or a method of study to determine what the author meant by what he wrote. If you recall in coming to Romans 6, I mentioned both the theme of Romans "justification by faith" and the plan for Romans from Chapters 1-8. Listed below is a quick review of the plan:
Romans 1-3:18 All men are under sin
Romans 3:18-4 Justification by faith
Chapter 5:1-8 The certainty and the fullness of salvation in Christ Jesus

In addition to Bible theme and Bible plan we have looked at context, words, grammar as we have made our way through Romans 6.

For example the context of Romans 6 is recognizing what happened to us at the time of our regeneration and then Paul exhorting us to live consistent with that reality. In Bible study we call this immediate context because this is very specific to Romans 6. But there is also a "remote" context that must be considered. And that is the same kind of language that Paul uses to express this Biblical truth in other epistles such as Ephesians and Colossians. It becomes known as remote context because it is not found within the book of Romans but is remote to it in other places in the Bible. Read More...

Dr. Bruce Ware welcomes invitation to be retreat speaker

I am thrilled to announce that we have secured Dr. Bruce Ware to be our retreat speaker in 2011. It is no secret that Bruce is one of my favorite living theologians and his teachings on the doctrine of God have been invaluable to the 21st century church. Nancy and I feel blessed to call Bruce and Jodi friends and I can tell you this, you are in for a real treat. In the coming months the leadership team will meet and start to work out the details as to time and place. Also I will be providing more information about Bruce, his family, background, and hobbies. I think you will enjoy getting to know him from a distance before you meet him at the retreat.

Here is a short bio.

Educational Background:
A.S. Judson Baptist College, 1973
Certif. Capernwray Bible School, 1974
B.A. Whitworth College, 1975
M.Div. Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, 1978
Th.M. Western Conservative Baptist Semianry, 1980
M.A. University of Washington, 1981
Ph.D. Fuller Theological Seminary, 1984 Read More...

So what is the Emergent church anyway?

Here are some of my study notes from a D.A. Carson lecture on the subject of the Emergent Church.

The Emergent Church is a movement that is only about a decade old.

This particular movement was sparked by frustration and protest but this is more in a personal sort of way. Many of those involved write about themselves, they typically come out of conservative churches and are pushing back against those sorts of messages and methodologies.



The frustration the emergent church deals with in regard to traditional churches
- a lack of genuine relationships
- a rigid approach to life
- a strong adherence to truth and rules
- a legalistic environment


And the break out of the movement has taken the pendulum far to the other side of the scale.

In particular they are protesting against two things:
1. A reaction or push back against modernist churches or churches with a strong emphasis on certain values or creeds
2. It is a protest against the mega-church, the first being traditional and modernist. And the second being those who are just pragmatic.


They want to offer a third option.


The profile for a typical traditional according to emergents would include:
organs
pews
pulpit
religious symbols
lots of theology


The pragmatic evangelicals which they would consider to be
Willow Creek - Bill Hybels
Saddleback Church - Rick Warren

And would be characterized by the following items
  • highly polished
  • theatre atmosphere
  • very seeker sensitive
Read More...

Studying the "one anothers" in the New Testament

There are lots of one another’s in the Bible. I mentioned that this morning, as we discussed not letting sin reign in the life of the believer. How are we going to help and minister to others, if we aren’t able to know them to the point we can know where sin might reign in their lives. This is part of true discipleship when people are committed to the one another of Scripture. Therefore I thought you might want to see the list of one another’s listed in the 21 epistles which covers Romans-Jude.

Do you think the one another’s of the New Testament were important to the authors?



Read More...

Review for May 23



If you would like to hear the audio clip by Dr. John Piper - “Make war on sin” then click on this LINK.

If you would like to print out these notes then click on this LINK

Purpose of our class








This Sunday "the Conclusion"

This Sunday will mark the conclusion of this Bible doctrine series on “Practical Christian Living.” We have been digging into Romans 6 to understand how we as Christians are to live out the doctrines of justification, regeneration and resurrection. Hopefully this has been very encouraging to you in the learning and living of your God-centered life.



Gentle and Humble

There are two adjectives in the New Testament that Jesus used to describe Himself. We find this in Matt. 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.

QUESTION FOR APPLICATION
If someone could describe you with only two adjectives which two would they use? Take a closer look at what the Bible has to say about humility and gentleness.






Quote for the day

“… the secret of the gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us.” - Kevin DeYoung

Two preachers with two different messages


from the Sacred Sandwich blog site

Devotion time in Proverbs 21:1

In our Bible reading plan this morning the assignment is Proverbs 20-21. After reading I took some time to reflect on the implications of Proverbs 21:1. I suggest that as you come to have devotion time or study time with chapters, sentences, verses or words that you get several Bible translations. It often times will help to secure the meaning because the different translations are attempting to put into English the original language whether it be Hebrew of Greek. Proverbs 21:1 deals directly with the attribute ofrGod’s sovereignty.

Proverbs 21:1 (NIV) - The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD;
he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

Proverbs 21:1 (NASB) - The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.

Proverbs 21:1 (NLT) - The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord;
he guides it wherever he pleases.

Proverbs 21:1 (ESV) - The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord;
he turns it wherever he will.

So let’s start connecting the dots in the Bible regarding the "sovereignty of God"

Look at Ephesians 1:11 "...who works all things according to the counsel of his will" The phrase "all things" is literal and means everything.

What are the "all things" that God is sovereign over according to the Bible?

The fall of a sparrow - Matthew 10:29 - Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Read More...

Quote for the day

“When I look into my heart and take a view of its wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than Hell. And it appears to me that, were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fullness of the great Jehovah, and the arm of His grace stretched forth in all the majesty of His power and in all the glory of His sovereignty, I should appear sunk down in my sins below Hell itself. It is affecting to think how ignorant I was when a young Christian, of the bottomless depths of wickedness, pride, hypocrisy, and filth left in my heart.” —Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758)

Launch into the summer

We met last night for Q and A session #3 at the home of Allen and Bonnie Cleveland. I want to say thanks to them for hosting and also to publicly thank the Duckett's and Rhino's for our first two sessions. Next week we are meeting at our home and plan to invite the entire class as we launch into the summer. Nancy is planning to have a "discussion and dessert" time whereas I want to call it "blowout at the Brimbos." I have several things that I would like to cover that should provide some very interesting dialogue for those who attend. Last night at the Q and A I mentioned the biggest evangelical story to hit the church within the past 100 years. Well, I am going to unveil that next week it full detail. Do you know what it is? Do you know how it is impacting the church today and in the future?

For the past two summers I have spent time praying and planning for the upcoming year. In the mega-church in Charlotte there are two main launches, one is in the fall and the other is the beginning of the new year. It has been my habit to start in June and basically as best I can, build a curriculum for the next year of teaching. The first year of our class the main area of concentration was on the word of God and in our second year our main focus has been on the doctrine of God. One of the sub-goals in the first two years has been to teach on the doctrine of salvation prior to and after Easter Sunday. As a class we have studied the doctrines of justification, regeneration, propitiation, atonement, redemption and resurrection. This year through prayer and discussion I decided to teach on a practical application of the doctrines of justification, regeneration and resurrection from Romans 6:1-14. This Sunday I will conclude our "Practical Christian Living" as we finish up the imperatives that Paul gives in Romans 6:11-14. Can you imagine if you had been in the congregation of Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones and spent a solid year in Romans 6? Of course this will be my defense for those who may think 6 weeks in one chapter is too long. Read More...

Quote for the day

“Only the gospel can truly save you. The gospel doesn’t make bad people good; it makes dead people alive...the gospel is God’s acceptance of us based on what Christ has done, not on what we can do.” – Tchividjian, Tullian., Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels (p.56)

Devotion time in 1 Chronicles 17

We are in week #35 of our Bible reading plan. As you read become familiar with chapter titles that are given in the study Bible and also cross references. One of my first Bibles when I started to study contained no headings and no notes. Part of my training was to read chapters and paragraphs in order to title them as to the main thought. If you will notice today in 1 Chronicles 17 the title of this chapter is God's covenant with David. When you have devotions or are involved in Bible study learn to ask good questions. For example as you read 1 Chronicles 17 here are some questions that need to be answered:
1. Why is this titled covenant with David when the word covenant does not appear?
2. What is a covenant?
3. What other covenants can we find in the Bible?
4. Are there more than one type of covenant?
5. Does this point us to Christ and if so how?

Covenants in general
A covenant is a divinely sanctioned commitment

Divinely sanctioned doesn't mean divinely approved but it means that the covenant has sanctions in it which normally includes blessings and curses
Turn to Deuteronomy 27-28 along with Leviticus 26.
Notice in these sections of Scripture you have both blessings and curses.
This is an example in the Bible of a covenant or an oath and it has these sanctions attached that if you obey there will be blessing but if you disobey there will be a curse
A key for us to understand is that every covenant in the Bible does not operate under the same principle.
Though all covenants have blessings and curses not all covenant relationships are conditioned on the human partner. Read More...

Review for May 16

Yesterday we started into the 4 imperatives in Romans 6:11-13. There is a lot here to cover and it looks as though we need to continue this discussion in next week’s class. If you would like to review and print out the notes from yesterday’s class then simply click on this LINK.

Should you want to hear the audio regarding indicatives and imperatives then click on this LINK.

Quote for the day



Kill sin or it will kill you

Yesterday we studied the first two imperatives in Romans 6:11-13. We as Christians need to understand the battlefield and it is against our own sinful nature. Be patient as we teach through this section of Romans but this is a very important category for us to understand.

John Owen one of the great Puritan theologians said "be killing your sin or it will be killing you." There is more to teach on this but for now I have an audio clip for you on this subject. Allow Dr. John Piper to encourage you to make war on your sin. Simply click on this LINK.

Warning to all pastors and teachers

From day one in our class we have been talking about the importance of knowing God's word in order that we may know God.
In yesterday's Bible reading plan I was particularly drawn to Hosea Chapter 4. In verse 1 we can plainly see that the problem is the people have no knowledge of God and for this reason in verse 6 it says they are destroyed because of that fact. Here is the question for consideration "How are we going to know God if we don't know the very word of God?"

Hosea 4:1
Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel,
For the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land,
Because there is no faithfulness or kindness
Or knowledge of God in the land.


Hosea 4:6
people are destroyed for lack of knowledge
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being My priest
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.


Notice two important points from Hosea Chapter 4:
1. What happens to the people?
2. Who is God is holding responsible for the lack of knowledge?
Read More...

The gospel-centered life

Ray Ortlund writes:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
The gospel announces that God is not what we think. God has no swagger, no pride, no bluff, no defensive face-saving, no pushing to the head of the line — what this whole world is made of. God is humble. He does nothing from rivalry, though we picked a fight with him, nor conceit, though we puffed ourselves up against him. God made himself nothing, took the form of a servant, humbled himself in obedience all the way to death on the cross. For us. That gospel doctrine in the Bible creates a gospel culture in a church.

Gospel doctrine – gospel culture = hypocrisy.
Gospel culture – gospel doctrine = fragility.
Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power.


In one of the most beautiful passages I know of outside the Bible, Jonathan Edwards distinguishes gospel culture from non-gospel culture:

“Spiritual pride is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christianity. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind and mislead the judgment. It is the main source of all the mischief the devil introduces, to clog and hinder a work of God.

Spiritual pride tends to speak of other persons’ sins with bitterness or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt. But pure Christian humility rather tends either to be silent about these problems or to speak of them with grief and pity. Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble Christian is most guarded about himself. He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The proud person is apt to find fault with other believers, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are and to be quick to note their deficiencies. But the humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart and is so concerned about it that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. He is apt to esteem others better than himself.”

Jonathan Edwards, Works (Edinburgh, 1979), I:398-400. Style updated.

Quote for the day

This is from the blog site of Tullian Tchividjian

Richard Lints’ landmark book of seventeen years ago The Fabric of Theology. He writes:

Theology ought to possess a pride of place in evangelicalism, but, like serious biblical study, it has on the whole been relegated to the backwaters of a few theological seminaries. The study of God is increasingly being replaced by a fascination with the self. Like their archenemy Rudolph Bultmann, evangelicals have begun to embrace “relevance” as a fundamental criterion of truth.

Coming this Sunday

This Sunday, Lord willing, the plan is to cover the 4 imperatives in Romans 6:11-13. Here is my overall summary of these verses that are so critical and practical for the Christian life.



In Romans 6:11 the apostle Paul is appealing to us through our logic and reason to realize who we are in Christ. And in Romans 6:12-13 he exhorts us to “BE WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST.” If you like movies then I have a clip from Robin Hood to be released on May 14. Watch and listen carefully to this video clip. Click on this LINK.





Bible Doctrine

On Tuesday night we had our Q and A session #2 at Danny and Rhonda’s home. One of the questions that I have been asked about are resources for Bible study. As most of you know this class is primarily dedicated to the learning of Bible doctrine. Doctrine simply means what the whole Bible has to say about any particular subject or topic. The design of this curriculum is to study:
The doctrine of God’s word
The doctrine of God Himself
The doctrine of Christ
The doctrine of the Spirit
The doctrine of man
The doctrine of salvation


Since March we have been looking at three specific doctrines that come under the doctrine of salvation. They are justification, regeneration and resurrection. After looking at these doctrines it has been my goal during the last 5 weeks to teach the practical application that come from these doctrines, as we can see in the first 14 verses of Romans 6. Read More...

What did Jesus mean when He said...

In my devotion time this morning I was thinking about the wealth and affluence in southeast Charlotte. Even though these are hard times economically for many people if you compare southeast Charlotte to the rest of the world there is no doubt that we are rich. And even those who would not think they are rich compared to the ultra wealthy are very rich compared to those in third world countries.

Do you remember the encounter that Jesus had with the rich young ruler? After the conversation is over Jesus turns to His disciples and says in Matthew 19:23 “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. If you were to ask Jesus to define the word "hard" in that sentence He does so with His very next statement. Matthew 19:24 “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” This verse is not talking about the eye of a needle being some archway that a camel would have to kneel down in order to go under. It is not talking about the word camel as a rope that one tries to push through a needle. Jesus is making a very important point and He is using a word picture to do so. Can a real camel, yes the animal with a hump on his back to through the eye of a sewing needle? The answer to that question is no, that would be impossible. And that is exactly what the disciples understood because in their follow up question they asked the following in context with what had just happened with the rich young ruler "then who can be saved?" Read More...

How are you motivated?


This is a recommended article by Justin Taylor from Kevin DeYoung’s blog site. I imagine there are plenty of Christians who rarely feel the sting of conscience or the pangs of regret. But I also know many, many Christians (including the one I see in the mirror) who easily feel bad for all the things they are not doing or are doing less than perfectly. In fact, I’m convinced most serious Christians live their lives with an almost constant low-level sense of guilt.

How do we feel guilty? Let me count the ways.

We could pray more.
We aren’t bold enough in evangelism.
We like sports too much.
We watch movies and television too often.
Our quiet times are too short or too sporadic.
We don’t give enough.
We bought a new couch.
We don’t read to our kids enough.
Our kids eat Cheetos and french fries.
We don’t recycle enough.
We need to lost 20 pounds.
We could use our time better.
We could live some place harder or in something smaller.
What do we do with all this behind the scenes guilt? We don’t feel stop-dead-in-our-tracks kind of remorse for these things. But these shortcomings can have a cumulative effect whereby even the mature Christian can feel like he’s rather disappointing to God, maybe just barely Christian. Read More...

The Christian Life

If you are not only attending our community on Sunday but studying with us then here is where we are. In the last 4 weeks we have covered for the most part the flow of thought from the apostle Paul in Romans 6:1-10. Last week the goal was to take the word “baptism” and study it in order to better understand its meaning. Again we are trying to interpret the text based on what the author meant by what he wrote. Everyone has a different learning style but I know many that like to review by answering questions.

So my challenge for you is to answer the following questions from Romans 6:1-10.

Question #1 - How do we arrive at Romans 6? (give a brief review for Romans 1-5)

Question #2 - What observations can we make about “how” Paul writes Romans?

Question #3 - How should Romans 6 be titled and outlined?

Question #4 - Why is it necessary for Paul to write Romans 6?

Question #5 - What are the key phrases or words in Romans 6?

Question #6 - What does “died to sin” mean for the Christian?

Question #7 - What word picture does Paul use to illustrate “died to sin?”

Question #8 - How does Romans 6:10 summarize section one?

Question #9 - How would you explain the word baptize in Romans 6:3? Read More...

You might be neo-orthodox if...

Remember our definition for Neo-Orthodox: those today in the church that believe the Bible becomes the word of God. In other words meaning is found in your personal experiences and based on what it means to you. So with the help of "Why we're not Emergent (by two guys who should be), Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck here is how you can identify this type of church person. (I did make a few minor changes).

You listen to U2, Moby and Johnny Cash's Hurt (sometimes in church), use sermon illustrations from The Sopranos, drink lattes in the afternoon and Guinnes in the evenings;

If your reading list consists primarily of Stanley Hauerwas, Henri Nouwen, N.T. Wright, Stan Grenz, Brennan Manning, Jim Wallis, Frederick Buechner, David Bosch, John Howard Yoder, Wendell Berry, Nancy Murphy, John Franke, Walter Winks and Lesslie Newbigin (not to mention McLaren, Pagitt, Bell, etc.) and your sparring partners include D.A. Carson, Jonathan Edwards, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Wayne Grudem; if your idea of quintessential Christian discipleship is Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Neslon Mandela, or Desmond Tutu;

if you don't like George W. Bush or institutions or big buisness or captalism or Left Behind Christianity;

if your political concerns are poverty, AIDS, imperialism, war-monerging, CEO salaries, consumerism, glorbal warming, racism, and oppression and not so much abortion and gay marriage;

if you are into bohemian, goth, rave, or indie; if you talk about the myth of redemptive violence and the myth of certainty;

if you lie awake at night having nightmares about all the ways modernism has ruined you life; Read More...

Question and Answer Session

We have a question and answer session coming up on Tuesday night at 7 PM at Danny and Rhonda’s home.

A couple of years ago Nancy and I went to the Cove in Asheville, NC for a weekend with Dr. John MacArthur. Of course I had my camera always at the ready and took plenty of pictures that weekend. At the end of one of Dr. MacArthur’s teaching sessions he took questions. I had no idea but Nancy all of a sudden raised her hand and they handed her the microphone. The only thing I could think was hurry up and get this on tape. Here is the question that Nancy asked.

As a side note I posted on my youtube account which is very unknown and private. This video has been viewed almost 10,000 times. Just click on this LINK.

Review for May 9

I started our lesson today with an explanation of Biblical hermeneutics. We live at an interesting time in human history especially as it relates to the church in America. The question that our post modern generation ask when they come to the Bible is “what does the Bible mean to me?” However the orthodox question throughout the 2000 years of church history has been “what does the Bible mean based on what the author intended when he wrote it?” I hope you see the huge difference between these two questions. The first question is man-centered and the second question is God-centered.
Biblical hermeneutics is a system or a way to interpret Scripture in order to understand what the author meant by what he wrote. There are three principles that can summarize this approach.
1. A historical-grammatical approach to the Bible
2. Scripture interprets Scripture
3. The New Testament is the guiding hermeneutic for us to understand the Old Testament

Early on in my Bible training I learned that we have to stand in the language community we are studying. This is not an easy task but it becomes essential if we are going to be diligent and thorough in our study. We also need to be able to handle context, words, grammar and then make sure that our interpretation is consistent with the unity of Scripture.

We as a class have been learning what practical Christian living looks like from the apostle Paul in Romans 6. Years ago Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones taught through the book of Romans. Lloyd-Jones who retired from his ministry at Westminster Chapel in 1968, following a major operation. He spoke of a belief that God had stopped him from continuing to preach through the New Testament book of the Letter to the Romans in his Friday evening Bible study exposition because he did not personally know enough about "joy in the Holy Spirit" which was to be his next sermon (based on Romans 14:17).

From what I understand it took Dr. Jones fourteen years to cover fourteen chapters. Read More...

God-centered Living

This is from Dr. Michael Horton’s book “The gospel driven life.”

It is interesting that the biblical writers chose the word “gospel.” The heart of most religions is good advice, good techniques, good programs, good ideas, and good support systems. These drive us deeper into ourselves, to find our inner light, inner goodness, inner voice, or inner resources. Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep down in my soul; I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify. But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfill, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed and achieved everything for us. Good advice may help us in daily direction; the Good News concerning Jesus Christ saves us from sin’s guilt and tyranny over our lives and the fear of death. It is Good News because it does not depend on us. It is about God and His faithfulness to His own purposes and promises.


Coming this Sunday

The study of Bible Doctrine is both challenging and exciting. It is challenging because in teaching we strive to understand what the author meant when he wrote the particular text. It is exciting because once the Spirit clearly reveals to word of God to the heart it becomes transformational. There are many ways to approach Bible study. I learned in my early years that the first thing one needs is a system to study the Bible. The word for this kind of study is called “Hermeneutics.” When I was introduced to the word my question was “why use the word hermeneutics?” And my Bible teacher was quick to respond because it is in the Bible.

This class provides the opportunity to learn Biblical hermeneutics. The initial teaching that I have emphasized in the first 18 months of our class is the whole view of Scripture. This is best done by looking at Bible doctrine and Biblical theology. Bible doctrine is concerned with what the Bible has to say about a specific subject or topic. In our class we are studying what the Bible has to say about; the word of God, God Himself, Christ, the Holy Spirit, man and finally salvation. At the same time in other venues such as retreat formats and men’s Bible study we are looking at the unfolding and progressive redemption of mankind by God from Genesis to Revelation. These things are not learned overnight but take time for us to study and then digest. After we get past unity of Scripture the next objective will be to look at “how to study” individual books of the Bible. Again when I was in my beginning years of a study the system I learned the following:
1. Author Background
2. Theme of the book
3. Plan of the book
Read More...

Is sin in Romans 6 equal to the sinful nature?

This morning I am looking closely at the word sin (harmartia) in the Greek as it occurs in Romans and in Paul's other epistles. Have you ever heard about or used the phrase "sinful nature?" I think this is a very helpful phrase to provide for us clear understanding as to what Paul means when he says we died to sin (Romans 6:2). But upon further investigation the phrase sinful nature never occurs in any of the word for word translations such as the ESV, NASB, or NKJV. However the NIV and the NLT, which I consider both to be excellent translations, use the phrase "sinful nature." And the question that comes to mind is as we study Romans 6:1-14, would it be fair to equate "the sin" which occurs 9 times in 14 verses to "the sinful nature."

I want us to understand that "the sin" or "the sinful" nature Paul refers to is a noun, which by definition of a noun is either a person, place or thing. This thing called the sinful nature is what causes the sins to be manifested in our lives. The sinful nature being the root and the sins (verb) then become the fruit. Let me give you a word picture that is not perfect but I think can illustrate the difference. If you have ever done anything in the garden or the yard regarding a weed you can better understand the difference between "the sin" and sins. If you pull the head off of the weed all the way to the surface of the ground even though the weed is gone in a few days it comes back. We all know that in order to get rid of a weed the right way is to pull it up by the roots. In our Christian lives we need to continue to kill or put to death the sinful nature. Even though we are dead to sin in terms of its realm and power, which is very remarkable, it is not yet dead to us. Jesus died for sins meaning He has paid the price for the penalty of our sins past, present and future. But also Jesus has died to sin which means the very power of sin has been broken due to His death and resurrection. But the presence of sin or you could say the sinful nature remains in every Christian.

So as I continue in our study of Romans 6 I will be referring to "the sin" as the sinful nature. It is from the sinful nature that the very acts of sins take place in our lives. Too often we are trying to manage the sins (verb) instead of putting to death the sinful nature (noun). When you arrive at Romans 6:12 which is the second imperative or command Paul writes the following; "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts." The question is asked what does the word "its" refer to in this sentence. Does it refer to sin or mortal body? I will not go into the technical reason, but according the Greek rendering it refers to the mortal body. We can't see the sinful nature but we certainly can see the things that come from the sinful nature. So Paul is dealing with the root (sinful nature) by telling us not to obey lusts that try to express themselves through the members of our body like eyes, hands, feet, tongue and so on. The fullness in the Christian life happens when we learn how to work on the right end of the problem. In this case we need to be killing the sinful nature instead of trying to manage the sins that result from this nature.

The teaching plan for May

In March I started a Bible doctrine series which I titled “March to the Cross.” The goal was to take three specific doctrines to study as we looked forward to our Easter Sunday celebration. It was after that Easter Sunday that I decided through prayer and discussion with others to consider in a more thorough way the application for these doctrines in the life of a Christian. The new title under which we are now studying is called “Practical Christian Living.” And we are studying the first 14 verses of Romans Chapter 6 which is titled “A new person in Christ.” In the past 3 weeks my goal as been to establish a strong overview in Romans 6:1-14. Then to make us aware of some of the key words and phrases, and finally to understand what it means for us as Christian to be dead to sin. In the next 3 weeks I have 3 specific areas of study in these verses that I want to help us to get a handle on.
1. The four imperatives that show up in Romans 6:11-13
2. The category distinction between the old man that was crucified and the deeds of the body that have been rendered powerless
3. The word “baptism” as it was used by the early Greek writers and what it means as to our spiritual life.

The more I pray and think about it I will finish this coming Sunday with the four imperatives. For those of you who have been quietly chanting “give me application, give me application then this is your week. However just so you know a little secret there was application in weeks 1, 2 and 3. Therefore if you are following along with me via this blog site I want you to read Romans 6:11-13. Pick out the 4 imperative verbs, again the imperative mood is the mood of command. So go to BlueletterBible.org and pick out the imperative verbs. And then follow the logic flow of thought that Paul gives us in the first 10 verses in order to complete the loop, of how to be the Christian that you say you’ve become.

In the following two weeks I will go into some specific details of how to study words and grammar when you come to the Bible. Now that you have seen the big picture outline of Romans 6:1-14t, now you are ready to uncover the diamonds hidden within the sentences, phrases and words. Romans 6 is one of the most encouraging and practical books in all the Bible. It is amazing to watch how the apostle Paul moves from justification in Chapter 5 to an explanation of regeneration in Chapter 6. If you think about it Romans 6 is describing in detail what the life of a person who has been regenerated, by the Spirit looks like day to day. After we conclude this particular series in May then it will be back to the doctrine of God and I plan to pick up where we left off which was on the immutability of God.

Word Study for REPENT

Sometimes a devotion may consist in meditating on a single word for a particular period of time. This morning from our discussion last night about "hardening of the heart" I studied and devoted on the word repent. Can you remember the last time you repented over your sin? It seems in our Christian culture today words like "repent" have made their way to the back of the bus so to speak. It is no longer in vogue to discuss such things that might offend. Somebody today might ask you "repent from what?" As Alan Redpath once said the biggest problem in the American church is that it cannot agree on a definition for sin. Last night we talked about the problem with a heart that is hard before the Lord. It might surprise us to know how little "repenting" is done and yet how important this is for the Christian life. When the Lord Jesus uses the words "REPENT and BELIEVE" in Mark 1:15 they are verbs which are in the present tense and the imperative mood. This means an action that we must have as a continuous way of life, a daily habit and this is NOT what He is asking but rather commanding us to do!

We need to stick close to the language of the Bible especially when it comes to preaching and teaching the gospel. Please remember the gospel is something that we as believers need to be preaching to ourselves daily. As Paul teaches us "for in it (the gospel) is the power unto salvation (justification, sanctification and glorification) for all who believe (present tense which means as a daily habit or process). I think the most appropriate language that is consistent with Scripture and that provides the most clarity are the words "REPENT and BELIEVE."

In this note I have provided for you a definition of the word repent. The word repent when used in the New Testament is a verb and the word repentance is a noun. Notice how many times this type of language is used in both the Old and New Testament. I have included a brief outline of repentance and the verses associated with this outline from study notes from Day, C. A. (2009). Collins Thesaurus of the Bible. Again Bible doctrine is what does the Bible have to say about a particular subject or topic. This is not an exhaustive study but gives you some idea what the Bible has to say regarding the doctrine of repentance. It may be helpful for all of us to review these Scriptures on a more regular basis in order to keep the necessity for repenting at the forefront of our minds. Read More...

A hardened heart

The theme for our first Q and A session was discussion about the hardness of our hearts. The reason our hearts are hard before God is because of our sin. When is the last time you wept and repented over your sin? The greatest single hindrance that we have in our Bible reading, Bible study and Bible devotion is sin that is tolerated and unconfessed. This is maybe the most critical problem that I see in the American church as it relates to keeping the main thing the main thing. That is the main thing of knowing God by the knowing His word which often times gets pushed aside by our hectic schedule and activities. Whenever we have things in our life that we value more than Christ then that is sin. Therefore as community we need to be reminded as to how easily our hearts can become hardened in our Christian walk. Learning and Living community Christ did not come to help you balance your checkbook, give you a better marriage or to be sure that your children don’t rebel. Jesus Christ came to save you from the wrath of God because of your sin and credit His righteousness to your account!

Here is the following texts that we discussed specifically or I would suggest for further study as it relates to the hardness of the heart;
  • Mark 8:14-17
  • Isaiah 6:8-10
  • Matthew 13:14-15
  • John 3:3-5
  • Amos 8:12
  • Luke 24:25
  • Hebrews 3:7-13
  • Matthew 7:24-27
  • Ezekiel 36:26-27
Read More...

Quote of the day

This quote comes from a new book by Tullian Tchividjian called “Surprised by Grace.”

“Real change does not come and cannot come independently of the gospel, which is the good news that even though we’re more defective and lost than we every imagined, we can be more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope, because Jesus Christ lived, died and rose again for sinners like you and me.”

Question and Answer Sessions

We have decided to meet during the month of May to dialogue over questions that those in our community have regarding the Bible. I have talked with a number of people in the class who have suggested we make this kind of format available. One of the recommendations I would ask is that we try to stay within the study of our last 18 months. If you just review the website I think you will see how much to date that has been covered. This is not a hard and fast rule but one that I believe will give us the best return on the time we invest together for the month of May.

This will be a time where we can get up close and person with one another, open our Bibles and wrestle through what’s on your mind. The first meeting will be at the home of Jim and Patti Duckworth. For directions to their home simply click on this LINK.



Review for May 2

Can you answer the following questions now about Romans 6:1-14 without your notes. This is the learning part of the first 10 verses that will lead to the living part which we will cover in two weeks.

1. Give the title for verses 1-14
2. What is the pattern of 5 statements that describe the outline?
3. Give a definition for “died to sin” and back up with Scripture.
4. What is the word picture that the apostle Paul for “died to sin?”
5. What is the difference between an indicative verb and an imperative verb?
6. How would you describe in brief the chapters leading up to Romans 6?
7. Why did Paul write Romans Chapter 6? (Hint: It comes from understanding Romans 5:21)
8. What is a key word or phrase in Romans 6?
9. Give two points that summarize verses 1-10?

I mentioned this morning that there were 40 slides to go over and I set a world’s record for me and made it through 29. I want to challenge those in our class to review these notes in detail. Next week I plan to cover the word “baptism” but the following week we are going to talk about “deeds of the body.” There is a critical distinction that we need to make between the old man that was crucified with Christ and the deeds of the body that I am going to refer to as the sinful nature. The old man has been crucified and never to live again but the sinful nature remains. OK, so we have the May 9 and May 16 classes that you can know what is going to be the primary goal. This means I will not be reviewing anymore in verses 1-10 in Romans 6. However I cannot stress too much that you understand the outline in Romans 6:1-14, and that you know what Paul means when he says a Christian has died to sin. These notes will contain not only all that we covered this morning but additional notes that will be covered during the May 16 class. Read More...

Preview for this Sunday

On Sunday, Lord willing, the plan is to continue into part 3 of "Practical Christian Living." This stems from our study in the doctrines of justification, regeneration and resurrection, with the goal being to marry the doctrinal with the applicational. Initially I was only going to stop after the doctrine of the resurrection but as I prayed and thought about it things changed. Therefore I have put our study regarding the doctrine of God on hold until we complete this very practical section of Christian living in Romans 6. Specifically the study in Romans 6 will reappear when we study the doctrine of salvation. But I think our going into Romans 6 at this time will provide some good doctrinal groundwork as we move forward. Keep in mind we are still in the study of doctrine which right now relates to our salvation that includes justification, regeneration, sanctification and glorification.

In week #1 of "Practical Christian Living" we looked at the context of Romans Chapters 1-5 that brought us into Chapter 6. Also I provided an outline for Romans 6 with a brief explanation of how we might study this chapter. In week #2, which was last week, I had us think about the phrase "died to sin." When Paul wrote Romans 6 we have a mention of died, death and die in each verse starting in Romans 6:2 and going through Romans 6:11. The challenge is to understand what does Paul mean when he says we have "died to sin" and yet as Christians we are still impacted, tempted and hassled by sin. As you have been hearing me say for the last 18 months we need to have proper categories doctrinally when we study the Bible. The category "died to sin" is critical as we move forward because it impacts so much of our being able to understand how Paul writes and what he is trying to teach us in Romans. Read More...