Learning to Read New Testament Greek

greekOver on the aomin.org blog, Jeff Downs writes:

I am sure some readers of the Alpha & Omega Ministries blog have started learning Greek and ended up back in their favorite English translation(s). If you’re like me, you have started learning Greek around 45 times and you really want to get back at it again. Well, why not another website to motivate you.

Robert Plummer, professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary now has the Daily Dose of Greek. If you know a little Greek (no not the owner of the sub shop down the street), or if you want to begin learning Greek, Rob’s site may be the place to begin.

If you are going to start for the 1st time (or 46th for that matter) Plummer’s videos follow David Alan Black’s book Learning to Read New Testament Greek. If you don’t know who David Alan Black is, check out this short video of him teaching Greek. I highly recommend Black’s video series.

Thomas Hudgins also has a series working through Black’s book. Click here to begin watching.

Thomas Cranmer’s Death

CranmerA brief sketch from the pages of Reformation history.

Nathan Busenitz serves on the pastoral staff of Grace Church and teaches theology at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles. He writes:

Four hundred fifty eight years ago, a crowd of curious spectators packed University Church in Oxford, England. They were there to witness the public recantation of one of the most well-known English Reformers, a man named Thomas Cranmer.

Cranmer had been arrested by Roman Catholic authorities nearly three years earlier. At first, his resolve was strong. But after many months in prison, under daily pressure from his captors and the imminent threat of being burned at the stake, the Reformer’s faith faltered. His enemies eventually coerced him to sign several documents renouncing his Protestant faith.

In a moment of weakness, in order to prolong his life, Cranmer denied the truths he had defended throughout his ministry, the very principles upon which the Reformation itself was based.

Roman Catholic Queen Mary I, known to church history as “Bloody Mary,” viewed Cranmer’s retractions as a mighty trophy in her violent campaign against the Protestant cause. But Cranmer’s enemies wanted more than just a written recantation. They wanted him to declare it publicly.

And so, on March 21, 1556, Thomas Cranmer was taken from prison and brought to University Church. Dressed in tattered clothing, the weary, broken, and degraded Reformer took his place at the pulpit. A script of his public recantation had already been approved; and his enemies sat expectantly in the audience, eager to hear his clear denunciation of the evangelical faith.

But then the unexpected happened. In the middle of his speech, Thomas Cranmer deviated from his script. To the shock and dismay of his enemies, he refused to recant the true gospel. Instead, he bravely recanted his earlier recantations.

Finding the courage he had lacked over those previous months, the emboldened Reformer announced to the crowd of shocked onlookers:

I come to the great thing that troubles my conscience more than any other thing that I ever said or did in my life: and that is, the setting abroad of writings contrary to the truth, which here now I renounce and refuse, as things written with my hand [which were] contrary to the truth which I thought in my heart, [being] written for fear of death, and to save my life.

Cranmer went on to say that if he should be burned at the stake, his right hand would be the first to be destroyed, since it had signed those recantations. And then, just to make sure no one misunderstood him, Cranmer added this: “And as for the pope, I refuse him, as Christ’s enemy and antichrist, with all his false doctrine.”

Chaos ensued.

Moments later, Cranmer was seized, marched outside, and burned at the stake.

True to his word, he thrust his right hand into the flames so that it might be destroyed first. As the flames encircled his body, Cranmer died with the words of Stephen on his lips: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. I see the heavens open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

Sharing the Gospel with a Roman Catholic

How do you share the gospel with a Roman Catholic? This clip (featuring Evangelist Ray Comfort) will help you to do it lovingly and without offense. Introduced by Kirk Cameron:

Church Membership – does it matter?

by Tom Ascol

One of the most frequent questions that I get from professing Christians is, “Why do I have to be a member of a church?” Over the course of the years the character of that question has increasingly shifted from honest inquiry to incredulous accusation. In fact I am no longer surprised when believers get angry at me for insisting that sincere discipleship requires church membership. Low and erroneous views of the church are so rampant even among conservative, Bible believing Christians that any congregation that does not exercise extreme care in receiving members is sure to find itself a large percentage of mere “paper members” whose names appear on the roll but whose bodies are largely absent from most gatherings and fellowship and ministry initiatives.

Baptists in former days saw the issue quite differently. Membership mattered to the early Baptist churches in England and America in the 17th and 18th centuries. In fact, it would have been inconceivable for those early Baptists to regard membership in a local congregation as optional or incidental.

Imagine if the following convictions about the church were commonplace today among professing Christians: Continue reading

The Order of Bible Books

Jim Hamilton writes:

English translations need to revisit the way that the books of the Old Testament are ordered.

Let me put it another way:

The only basis for the way that English translations order the books of the Old Testament is modern convention.

The order we use today seems to have arisen with the printing press. There is no ancient precedent for the order of the Old Testament books we find in our English translations.

In The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (esp. 181–234), Roger Beckwith has convincingly demonstrated that the oldest arrangement of the OT is the tripartite division into Law, Prophets, and Writings. This arrangement is reflected in the words of Jesus in Luke 24:44,

“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

This statement indicates that when Jesus thought of the Old Testament, he thought of three groups of books. These three groups of books broadly match the ordering in printed Hebrew Bibles today: Torah (Law), Neviim (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). This is the basis of the acronym TaNaK (Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim—a list of the books is here). Ancient evidence for this tripartite division of the OT is also found in the prologue to the apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus, in the text found among the Dead Sea Scrolls known as 4QMMT, and in the Babylonian Talmud’s Baba Bathra 14b. Continue reading

Sunday Worship

sunday-the-lord-s-dayThis excerpt is taken from Welcome to a Reformed Church by Daniel Hyde.

From creation onward, the people of God worshiped on the seventh day of the week. This was a “creation ordinance” that the Creator Himself established by His example, with the intent that His creatures would follow it. He worked six days and called His image-bearers to work (Gen. 2:15); He rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2; Ex. 20:11; 31:17) and called His image-bearers to rest. He signified this with His benediction, setting apart the seventh day as “holy” (Gen. 2:3).

Later, when the Sabbath command was reiterated, we read: “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed” (Ex. 31:17). The word refreshed (Hebrew, naphash) is used only two other times in the Old Testament: once in reference to giving rest to animals, servants, and visitors within Israel (Ex. 23:12), and once in reference to David and his men (2 Sam. 16:14). After God worked to make everything, it was as if His rest refreshed Him. Yet God’s rest and refreshment mean so much more; they have to do with His joy and satisfaction. The psalmist writes, “May the LORD rejoice in his works” (Ps. 104:31). God’s rest and satisfaction was that of a King; having created the heavens and the earth to be His cosmic palace, He took His place on His throne, so to speak, on the seventh day.

After God brought His people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea, the Sabbath day took on even more significance as a covenant sign that God sanctified His people (Ex. 31:13). On that day, the saints celebrated the reality that God had created them and that their rest was rooted in His rest: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Ex. 20:8-11). As well, the Sabbath signified that God had redeemed His people (Deut. 5:12-15). Finally, the annual Day of Atonement fell on a Sabbath (Lev. 16:30-31), so the Sabbath also celebrated God’s forgiveness of His people.

Under the old covenant with Israel (Ex. 19; Heb. 8:6, 7, 13), the Sabbath day was extremely strict. Not only was no work to be done by the Israelites and their children, they also were to give rest to all in their households—servants, livestock, even sojourners (Ex. 20:10). God even gave regulatory laws over what could and could not be done. For example, if one even went out to gather sticks on the Sabbath in order to kindle a fire (Num. 15:32-36; Ex. 35:1-3), he was to be put to death (Ex. 31:14-15; 35:2). All this strictness was a part of the tutelage of the law, which was meant to lead Israel by the hand to Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:24), who is the final sacrifice ending the old covenant (Heb. 7:11-12, 18-19; 8:7, 13).

When Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, things changed. Christ, the second Adam, “finished” (John 19:30) the work that the first Adam failed to do (Rom. 5:12-19). Because of that pivotal event, the church determined that for Christians under the new covenant, the day of worship and celebration of the Lord’s grace in Jesus Christ was to be the first day of the week, Sunday: “From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, [the Sabbath] was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath” (WCF, 21:7). On this day, we are reminded of and participate in the glorious reality that we have already entered God’s rest (Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:10) and that we await the experience of the fullness of this rest in eternity in the new heavens and new earth (Rev. 21-22). We now assemble corporately for worship and enjoy a foretaste of our eternal rest, then go out into the kingdom of this world to work for six days. So why do we worship on Sunday and not Saturday?

The first day of the week was the day on which our Lord rose from the dead (John 20:1; cf. Ps. 118:24).

The first day of the week is called “the Lord’s day” (Rev. 1:10; cf. 1 Cor. 16:2).

The first day was the day on which the Holy Spirit was poured out on the church (Acts 2:1-36).

Just as on the first day of creation God made light and separated it from the darkness, we gather on the first day of the week to celebrate the light of the gospel in Jesus Christ, who has separated us from the world of the darkness of sin (John 1:5, 9; 3:19; 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:1-6).

From creation until Christ, the people of God worked six days and then rested on the seventh day. This was a picture of their looking forward to eternal rest; the seventh day of creation was not structured with an “evening and morning” as the previous six days (Gen. 2:1-3), which signified that the seventh day had no end and was thus a foretaste of eternity itself. On the other hand, from the work of Christ until the consummation, the people of God rest on the first day and work the next six, looking back on the finished work of Christ. Yet we too look forward to the full consummation of this rest.

The Battle Over Justification

The youtube videos below are taken from a seminar given by Dr. James White on Saturday & Sunday, February 7, 8, 2009, at the Sola Conference at Countryside Bible Church in the Dallas area. The first video is an overview of the historic and present day attacks against the doctrine of sola fide (justification by faith alone). Lasting approx. 72 minutes, this presentation is excellent for both its clarity and insight concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The second video (below) lasts approx. 55 minutes and is entitled “Living Out Sola Fide.”

Confessions of a Former Word of Faith Pastor

For quite some time, I was a pastor in the “word of faith” movement. On today’s “Dividing Line” show, I shared something of an insider’s guide, as well as the powerful biblical truths God used to alert me to the gross deception. How grateful I am to God for bringing me out!

The worst doctrine?

What is the worst false teaching confronting and infiltrating the body of Christ in our day?

Television preacher Andrew Wommack believes it is..

wait for it…

…the doctrine that God is in control of all things (or meticulous providence).

Quote: “In my estimation, the worst doctrine that’s prevalent in the Body of Christ today and just completely voids all of these things about God being a good God is the wrong teaching on the Sovereignty of God – that God controls everything.”

Yes, you read that right, as this video shows:

Here’s my full response:

Seeking

sproul2_0R. C. Sproul:

We have all heard evangelists quote from Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to the unconverted, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.

So what? The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, “The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.” Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it.

When we are converted to Christ, we use language of discovery to express our conversion. We speak of finding Christ. We may have bumper stickers that read, “I Found It.” These statements are indeed true. The irony is this: Once we have found Christ it is not the end of our seeking but the beginning. Usually, when we find what we are looking for, it signals the end of our searching. But when we “find” Christ, it is the beginning of our search.

The Christian life begins at conversion; it does not end where it begins. It grows; it moves from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life. This movement of growth is prodded by continual seeking after God.

In your spiritual walk, are you moving from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life? Are you continually seeking after God?