Category Archives: Discipleship Help & Tips

“What Are You Made Of?” What it Means to be Human.

Before stating what it means to be human, it should be noted by whom we are made. God made us. “God rules the world because he made the world. Like a potter with his clay, God fashioned the world into just the shape he wished, with all its amazing details. He made it, and he owns it.”[1]

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 ESV)

God made us to know Him, to love Him and to be known and loved by Him. All people are sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; we are made by God.

“then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

The question that this post seeks to answer is not how did God make man? or for what purpose did God make man? Instead the question pursued here is what is a human made of—what is our essence?

The Essence of Man is Two Distinct Elements: Body (Material)

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Help for the “I’d Like to Read This Commentary, but I Don’t Understand Some of the Technical Terms it Uses” Problem

When studying the Bible with someone, it is often helpful consult a Bible commentary, book, or essay that is intended for an academic audience or that uses technical language. The advantage to using theological terms—and this is exactly why writers use them—is that they efficiently convey an idea with precision. Instead of saying “reading a meaning into a text that is not present or intended in the text,” a writer can simply refer to that idea by using the word eisegesis. Once you know what the terms mean, it actually makes for easier reading.

The problem is that such words are rarely used by your average layperson. All those unfamiliar words can make what should be a help (commentaries, books, and articles) become a barrier to understanding. However, the answer is not to abandon the rich help of commentaries and the like. Instead of throwing your commentaries in the trash, there are a couple of resources that can help you make sense of those theological terms and make the most out of your study aides.

Stark’s Glossary of Theological Terms

Stark’s Glossary of Theological Terms would be my first recommendation for anyone trying to familiarize themselves with the Keep Reading

The Author Determines the Meaning: Now, What Do I Do About It?

The previous post describes why we should not just read the Bible for how it makes us feel or “what it says to me.” If that is true, how should I read the Bible, what do I do about it?

Commit to an Author-Determined Approach to Meaning

We do not read the Bible to see a reflection of ourselves in the text; we read the Bible as a window through which we discover God’s truth about the universe, ourselves, and Him. “[When reading the Bible] the goal is to arrive at the creative intention of the original author contained in the words of the text…the meaning of the text is what the author consciously intended to say by his text. Thus, the meaning of Romans is what Paul intended to communicate to his readers in Rome when he wrote his letter.”[1]

Who is the Author of the Bible?  God is the ultimate author; and He appointed human authors.

God inspired a variety of human authors over a period of approximately 1500 years who wrote as thinking, feeling human beings to convey His message. God superintended over the process so that as the human author expressed God’s inspiration in their Keep Reading

Does it Matter ‘How’ I Read the Bible?

I think it safe to assume that we are in agreement: we want to read the Bible, understand it correctly, live it out, and teach others to do the same. You are reading a Bible interpretation guide, after all. 

However, when discussing the topic of how one should read, study, and interpret the Bible, a question commonly comes up: “What’s all the fuss? Can’t I just read the Bible and be happy with what it says to me or how it makes me feel?” I understand the sentiment, but there are a few reasons that we can’t be satisfied with that approach to reading the Bible.

Reason #1: I Don’t Get to Determine What the Bible Means; Meaning is Determined by the Author

Who or what determines the meaning of a text? The author, the text itself, or the reader? The author is the one who has constructed an intelligent thought (who has constructed the meaning) and conveyed it through inanimate objects (paper, ink, or pixels on a digital display) in order to communicate meaning to an audience. Meaning is created and determined by the author. In the case of the Bible, God has inspired multiple authors over a Keep Reading

What the Quran has to Say About Biblical Inerrancy

A Southern Baptist Theological Seminary blog post from Ayman Ibrahim, assistant professor of Islamic Studies, makes the case that Muslims should advocate for biblical inerrancy. You can read the whole thing here, but here are some of the highlights:… Keep Reading

Instruction from the Book of Acts for Sharing the Gospel

In the book of Acts, we find a treasure of information concerning the foundation and operation of Christ’s Church. As recipients of this revealed Word, we do not only receive historical facts, but we also receive a model for ecclesiology, fellowship, and, among other things, strategy for evangelism.  Given the broad range of audiences that hear an evangelistic message from the early Church, we would expect to see a diversity in approaches and strategies—and that is exactly what we find.  With that said, we (maybe predictably) find this in common for every attempt at evangelism in Acts: the top priority is always to proclaim Christ as savior (Acts 4:12 and Acts 17:2-3).

1. Sharing the Gospel with Those Who Have a Biblical Foundation

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Nurturing a New Believer

I hope we can all agree that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. To teach that in an evangelistic Bible study or in meeting with a new believer, it makes a lot of sense to draw heavily on the truth that is in Chapters 3-5 of Romans.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26 ESV)

 

What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

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Q&A: What Does Jesus Say About the Old Testament and His Identity?

When we share the gospel, we point back to the completed work of Christ; we point to the mystery that has been fully revealed (Romans 16:25-26). However, as Jesus shared the gospel, he shared an unfolding gospel.  As such, when Jesus shared the gospel, he spoke of the start of God’s Kingdom[1], he spoke of himself as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, he spoke of his work yet to be accomplished, and he taught eschatology. For Jesus, sharing the gospel is, necessarily, teaching about himself and connecting the rich history of Old Testament prophecy to his ministry.

Jesus Indicates that the Old Testament Speaks Frequently and Understandably About Himself

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Q&A: Is it Appropriate to Invite an Unbeliever to “Ask Christ to Save You”?

It is clear that sharing the gospel involves more than just broadcasting information. In order to be saved, one must profess faith in Christ. It is incumbent on the Christian that shares the gospel to, at some point, appropriately make an invitation on behalf of Christ and proclaim “be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). There are a number of ways one could invite a person to “be reconciled to God.”  Is it appropriate to invite an unbeliever to “ask Jesus to save” them?

The Example of Jesus

 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will

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How Should We Define the “Gospel” when Sharing our Faith?

Some might see this title and say that it doesn’t matter how you define the gospel so long as the person sharing the gospel encourages the hearer to “believe Jesus.” That claim has a good motive; it expresses a desire to not over-think the conversation or burden it with many words. It is possible to over-complicate an explanation of the gospel and do harm. But a claim that “believe Jesus” expresses the essentials of saving faith is also dysfunctional. We can do harm by over-simplifying the gospel message to the point that it is no longer the gospel at all. Defining what constitutes the gospel message is a faithful task that honors God and demonstrates love for our neighbor. What is necessary to understand the gospel? What are the essentials of saving faith?… Keep Reading

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