A wonderful feeling to have

On my new microblog, a link to today’s memory verse, Heb 13.18. This verse reminds me of a number of truths:

  • Pray for us: Equality and reciprocity are a part of God’s body. We all need to ask for prayer.
  • We are sure: Certainty, based on God’s word, is a wonderful feeling to have.
  • We have a clear conscience: To be greatly valued. No matter what our past was like, God changes all.
  • Desire: What do we really want? Right desire focuses us toward right action.
  • Conduct ourselves rightly: To do right before God brings great blessing from above.
  • In every respect: Integrity and simplicity unite all under God’s direction, with no area left untouched.

#bible-commentary, #hebrews, #memorization

Comment this verse: Ephesians 4.29

“You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear” (NET).

A friend commented on this verse elsewhere. It seemed appropriate to post it here and invite others to make their comments on it. What say you?

#bible-commentary, #tongue, #words

Will There Be Universal Justice?

Many in the world struggle with the existence of evil, the abuse of the innocent and a lack of justice across multiple spectrums of life. The struggle can be so intense that it leads many to disregard any acknowledgement of the existence of a Higher Being. Even Christians can fail at times to keep our eyes focused upon the crown to be given after the race is over.

I believe the late brother Burton Coffman used some wise words concerning these issues. It’s a little lengthy for posts here, but I believe the read is worth the time:

“Great and terrible as the concept of eternal judgment admittedly is, the most profound necessity for it is evident. Most of the truly difficult problems connected with the life of faith, and with reference to the entire system of Christianity, are directly related to the doctrine of eternal judgment. Heaven, hell, eternal punishment, eternal joy, Satan, and the problem of evil – all these things pivot in the last analysis upon the scriptural teaching of the judgment. All of the problems, great and small, eventually fade into insignificance before the pressing question, “Is this universe just?” The underlying assumption of revealed religion as set forth in both the Old Testament and the New Testament is the concept of a just universe; and time and time again it is unequivocably declared to be just (Psalms 45:6,7). The father of the faithful, Abraham, idiomatically inferred it when he asked, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). The existence of laws in the natural realm, the moral law within people, and the sacred revelation all alike proclaim the justice of the universe; and if it is not so, life indeed becomes “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (Macbeth, Act V). Sanity in any true sense turns upon the question of justice in the cosmos. If the righteousness and justice of God do indeed establish his throne and undergird all things, then WE ARE SAFE; and every man shall receive the reward of the deeds done in the body (2 Corinthians 5:10); if not, then any true security of the soul is a fool’s dream, and man himself is but an infant crying in the night with no language but a cry!

But if the universe is just; if the righteous shall be rewarded and the wicked punished, AN ETERNAL JUDGMENT IS REQUIRED, a judgment in which all inequities and injustices shall be corrected, an eternal judgment presided over by infinite justice, wisdom, mercy, and love – in short, the judgment revealed upon every page of the sacred scriptures, or if not revealed, then certainly implied. The widespread neglect and apparent disbelief of this doctrine suggests that it is true of our generation, as it was of those to whom this epistle was first addressed, that we “have need again that someone teach us the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God” (Hebrews 5:12)” (James Burton Coffman Commentaries, Volume X, Hebrews 6:1-2; p.116; A.C.U. Press, 1971)

One part of scripture that I try to remember when my heart and mind ponders these issues is Psalm 73. While struggling over the existence of the wicked and their bounding prosperity over the righteous, the psalmist reminds himself and all of his readers about an extremely important point. He says in verses 16,17 – “When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me — Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end.”

Although at times it’s hard to see and comprehend in this life, God’s word assures His people there will be universal justice one day; and this day will not have anything to do with any man-made court (Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29).

#bible-commentary, #evil, #hebrews, #judgment, #justice, #questions-and-doubts, #resurrection, #the-wicked-and-the-righteous, #universal-justice

Study Bible notes: Acts 4

Here’s the reading for today in the NET Bible version. Add your concise notes on a word, phrase, or even a segment of the chapter, and we’ll choose some of them for inclusion in the final document on Acts.

These are my subtitles for the main sections in Acts 4:

  • The Boldness of Peter and John (1-22)
  • Disciples Pray for Boldness (23-31)
  • Unity and Generosity (32-37)

#bible-commentary, #bible-study, #study-bible-notes

Daily Nudge: Comment a phrase

Take one sentence in Jesus’ teaching of Luke 12:1-12, just one, and provide a comment on it. Your comment can be textual, exegetical, exposition, application, personal reflection — your choice.

Meanwhile, thousands of people had gathered. They were so crowded that they stepped on each other. Jesus spoke to his disciples and said, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees. I’m talking about their hypocrisy. 2  Nothing has been covered that will not be exposed. Whatever is secret will be made known. 3  Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. Whatever you have whispered in private rooms will be shouted from the housetops. 4  “My friends, I can guarantee that you don’t need to be afraid of those who kill the body. After that they can’t do anything more. 5  I’ll show you the one you should be afraid of. Be afraid of the one who has the power to throw you into hell after killing you. I’m warning you to be afraid of him. 6  “Aren’t five sparrows sold for two cents? God doesn’t forget any of them. 7  Even every hair on your head has been counted. Don’t be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows. 8  I can guarantee that the Son of Man will acknowledge in front of God’s angels every person who acknowledges him in front of others. 9  But God’s angels will be told that I don’t know those people who tell others that they don’t know me. 10  Everyone who says something against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But the person who dishonors the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11  “When you are put on trial in synagogues or in front of rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say. 12  At that time the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say.” (God’s Word version)

This text comes from today’s reading which follows the New Testament yearly plan some of us are following.

#bible-commentary, #gods-word-translation, #luke-12, #nudge

One-volume commentary by F.F. Bruce

The old standard used to be the New Bible Commentary: Revised, which has been updated again and has a name like 21st Century Edition or some such. But lately I’ve been using editor F.F. Bruce’s, New International Bible Commentary, which I have in English under a previous name, but it has the same innards. It has also been translated into Portuguese, so that’s a plus. That’s the one I’d have to name, I reckon, out of the few one-volume commentaries I have.

I’ve bought a couple of one-volume commentaries since then, but although they have some good features, they don’t seem to measure up all around. Nor did I expect them to, since one was a hodge-podge of liberal, feminist, and liberation theologies, another a Catholic liberal volume (which has a lot of good features, however), yet another doctrinally fine, but not so helpful on overall approach, literary structure, and theological synthesis.

I can handle the denominational and other religious works better than something by brethren which takes off on all kinds of tangents, which I don’t buy. One expects it from other quarters, but the disappointment would be so great, coming from a brotherhood source, that I don’t bother.

So my vote is Bruce’s work, at least, for this year. Ask me again next year.

#bible-commentary, #one-volume-commentaries

My wife has two one volume commentaries the…

My wife has two one-volume commentaries, the B.W. Johnson book and Jim Sheerer’s commentary. Honestly, I don’t use either of them, though I am keeping the Sheerer book for her. In an interesting footnote, Sheerer’s book was published by Yeomen Press, Chickasha, OK, which is a beautiful little town outside of Oklahoma City and just a few miles from the Rush Springs Church of Christ, a superior body of Christ.

#bible-commentary, #one-volume-commentaries

Bible reading: 2 Thessalonians 3

In the final section of the letter, Paul moves from doctrine to conduct, dealing with the undisciplined among them, after requesting prayer and expressing his confidence in their obedience.

3:1-5. Request for Prayer. As in the first letter, Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for them, that the Lord’s message may spread quickly. Paul was ever concerned that the gospel reach more and more people (2 Corinthians 4:15; 10:15-16). All his efforts were devoted to the Great Commission as an extension of the Lord’s work in the world. Even though he is an apostle, the reciprocal nature of the faith applies equally. Prayer is the great leveler and feeds the solidarity among God’s family. Likely Paul uses athletic language here, of running, and winning the applause of the bleachers. For the message to be honored would mean received by the hearers and finding a place in the heart for the truth (see 2:10), as it was among the Thessalonians. Those who have honored the gospel can pray for it to be honored by others. The second part of Paul’s prayer request reflects that the gospel advances in the midst of opposition: that we may be delivered from perverse and evil people (v. 2). He asks not for the removal of persecutors, but that their efforts may have no effect on the progress of the gospel (see Philippians 1:12ff). Continue reading

#2-thessalonians, #bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #pauls-epistles

Bible reading: 2 Thessalonians 2

2:1-2. Don’t Be Disturbed. In 1 Corinthians, when in various moments Paul writes, “Now regarding,” it is taken as a reply to questions contained in a letter from Corinth, from the cue in 7:1. With no such cue here, no conclusion can be reached from his use of it in 2:1, although it seems to indicate his main concern in writing this second letter. Evidently Paul has received information since his first letter that motivates him to write and address the false message which taught that the day of the Lord is already here (see 3:11). Paul has already taught in his first letter about the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and how that all saints will be gathered to be with him. He pleads that they not be easily shaken from their composure, or state of “mind,” which would render them incapable to judge, or disturbed by what they have heard. All spirits or teachings must be examined. Just because someone says so does not make it so. Satan passes himself off as angel of light, his servants as workers of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). So it is no wonder that some spirit or message or letter allegedly from Paul might be a satanic forgery. Continue reading

#2-thessalonians, #bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #eschatology, #man-of-sin, #pauls-epistles

Bible reading: 2 Thessalonians 1

The Thessalonians were evidently forward-looking people. In both letters Paul discusses the future. In the first, the state of the righteous dead at the coming of Christ. In the second, the relief from persecution they will have at Christ’s coming, and the false teaching that the day of the Lord is already here. The time between the two letters is unknown. Though liberal scholars doubt that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians, external evidence is strong for his authorship, especially for the second. Those who believe Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians estimate that no more than weeks or a few months interval passed between them, placing the date in the early 50s.

Paul treats three topics, all apparently related: suffering for the Kingdom of God, a false teaching about Christ’s coming, and the undisciplined life of some saints. Apparently, he had received new information (2:2; 3:11), whether by letter or visit is unknown, about the situation in the congregation and was moved to write further on these topics. Continue reading

#2-thessalonians, #bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #pauline-epistles

Bible reading: 1 Thessalonians 3

3:1-5. Timothy Sent to Thessalonica. The forced separation from the Thessalonians became unbearable for Paul, anxious as he was to know how they fared under the duress. In Athens, he decided to send Timothy to strengthen them in their faith.

As he will later remind Timothy himself (2 Timothy 3:12), Paul makes it clear that Christians are destined for suffering. It was not something “strange” that was happening to them, as Peter would later tell his readers (1 Peter 4:12). Suffering for the gospel is integral to life in Christ, so much so that Paul rejoiced in his suffering in behalf of the body of Christ, considering them a filling up or completing in his physical body of the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24). Just as redemption came by suffering, so its proclamation is accomplished through suffering as well. This is the destiny of God’s people, by him determined and willed that it should be so. To shrink from suffering for the gospel is to draw back from following him. So Paul had forewarned the Thessalonians to expect it, as it indeed happened.

But the knowledge and expectation of such affliction did not assuage his anxiety about them, so he sent to find out about their faith. He must know how they are faring, for fear that the tempter somehow had tempted them. If Satan had been able to thwart Paul’s plans to visit the new converts (2:18), the apostle knows he will be working on their end to entice them to avoid the suffering by compromising or abandoning their faith. He had tempted Jesus to avoid the cross by promising him an easy way out to acquire the kingdom. He would undoubtedly offer the Thessalonians some similar false promise, which, if they did not recognize it for what it was, would prove Paul’s toil useless. Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #emotions, #pauls-epistles

Bible reading: 1 Thessalonians 2

2:1-12. Paul’s Work in Thessalonica. After mentioning the “character” of his work in 1:5, Paul now proceeds to describe it in this section, perhaps as a defense against his slanderous countrymen who would drive a wedge between him and his converts. His service among them was characterized by tenderness and selflessness. So he addresses them as brothers and sisters, as family in Christ who are all “loved by God” (1:4) and share his love among themselves. That his coming to them was not purposeless or without result was evidence that they had been convinced of his earnestness. He cites the mistreatment received in Philippi and the courage in our God as proof that the appeal made in his message to turn to God did not come from error or impurity or with deceit. (NLT sharpens this connection between verses 2 and 3.) An insincere preacher out for money would not have continued under the persecution that Paul received. Such courage showed he was approved by God to declare his gospel and his motives were not to please people but God, because he remembers that is it God who examines our hearts. The Lord sees at this moment why we do what we do, which means that he will judge our intentions and actions in the last day. People’s opinions last but briefly, and gaining their approval is an exercise in futility, but God’s approval counts for time and eternity. People judge actions, but God examines the heart; only he is able to judge fully and fairly. Continue reading

#bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #pauline-epistles

Bible reading: 1 Thessalonians

As one of Paul’s earliest letters, if not the earliest, written around A.D. 51, 1 Thessalonians unveils the vibrant faith and severe struggles of Jesus’ followers who readily embraced the message and made it their own (Acts 17:1-9). In a short time, at most, a matter of months, these Macedonians learned from Paul the good news of Christ. Luke’s comment about the Bereans (Acts 17:11) should not be taken as a slight against the Thessalonians, but as a comment about the resistance of the gospel among the Jews, who forced Paul to flee the city. His concern for those who remained occasioned his writing, and his letter was likely sent, by the hands of Timothy (3:1-5), not long after his departure.

1:1. Greeting. Never the attention hog, Paul joins Silvanus, the Greek form of Silas, and Timothy to himself in the greeting. These two accompanied him to Thessalonica when he first preached the gospel there. Though he is the true author of the letter, he is quick to include others in his labors and recognize their contributions. He writes to the church of the Thessalonians, the modifying phrase indicating those who composed the Christian community there. Church is used in the local sense of the disciples in that location; it is used again in the letter only in 2:14, in the same sense, but in the plural. The term denotes those people whose conversion to Christ has united them together in perpetual assembly around their Lord, whether or not in actual meeting. Their most important location, however, is not Thessalonica, but in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is where their true identity and loyalty lie, as well as their sphere of life and operation. With a change of a few letters, the Greek “greeting” becomes Paul’s grace, which he considers the proper salutation, since it captures the essence of his faith, joined to the standard Jewish greeting, peace, now to be seen as that restoration of relationship with God in Christ. Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #pauls-epistles