Ephesians in a Flash
I recently visited a website that is BLOWING MY MIND! Simply INCREDIBLE! It's called The Bible Project (thebibleproject.com). The creators of this website proclaim the biblical story through the power of visual artistry. You need to check it out... now!
The video below is the Bible Project's overview of Ephesians. Since we just finished an 18-week series on that letter, I thought it appropriate to share. Enjoy!
Husband and Wives/Love and Respect
I hope you all enjoyed the sermon yesterday! I owe a large part of my understanding about godly marriage to my mother and step-father. They have taught and counseled many couples at their church for over 10 years now -- teaching them to imitate our Lord's sacrificial love in their marriages. For all their work, and for what they have taught me, they deserve to be recognized. Thank You!
One of the books my parents have found insightful for the couples they teach is Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs (and his wife). This book takes a deeper look at what "love" means to a wife, what "respect" means to a husband, and how we can give them to our spouses.
Another book I have found especially helpful is The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. His book deals with broader issues concerning marriage. Whether you're married, planning to be married, or even if you're single, this one is definitely worth reading.
We Become What We Worship
If you enjoyed yesterday's sermon on the power of worship, then you might want to check out one of the books below. James K. A. (Jamie) Smith elaborates upon much of what I said in the sermon.
I would recommend the first one, You Are What You Love. It is written at the popular level (i.e., he won't bog you down with jargon and unfamiliar concepts). But if you're interested to wrestle with the content on a more collegiate level, then Desiring the Kingdom is the one for you. Hope you enjoy!
P.S.- I had an opportunity to meet Jamie when I was in college. He is very intelligent and wise, but also very humble and compassionate. Great guy.
A member from the Methodist church in Winthrop asked me about the frequency of Communion yesterday. "Does the Bible speak about how often we are supposed to take communion?" It's an interesting question - one the church has wrestled with from at least the second century. My response to him is listed below:
From my research the Bible has only one command (strictly speaking) concerning the frequency of communion. In 1 Cor. 11:25, Paul explains that Jesus said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, AS OFTEN AS YOU DRINK IT, in remembrance of me." That's the ONLY biblical command concerning frequency that I can find. (It's interesting to note that the Gospels don't include the words, "as often as you drink it." I'm not saying Jesus DIDN'T say that - just interesting to note.)
In the Book of Acts, there seem to be REFERENCES to the frequency of communion, but they are by no means COMMANDS. Acts 2:42 & 46 seem to suggest that the believers celebrated communion as often as they ate and drank... meaning perhaps breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Acts 20:7 seems to suggest that they celebrated communion every Sunday, although (once again, strictly speaking) the Greek and the English say "when we met to break bread" not "when we ALWAYS met to break bread." Whether these references refer to the formal Holy Communion celebration that we have in mind is up for debate. If these references do refer to Holy Communion, then they seem to suggest that the early church practiced it every Sunday, if not more frequently.
The Didache (an important extra-biblical document written around the first or second century) commands that communion be celebrated every "Lord's Day" (meaning Sunday). This seems to support Acts 20:7.
In practice, though, the church has celebrated communion both frequently and infrequently throughout the years. During some periods it was celebrated multiple times per week. During other periods it was only celebrated once a year. When the Protestant reformers parted ways with the Roman Catholic Church, they celebrated communion less frequently to disabuse their congregations of certain unbiblical beliefs about it. In recent centuries, there has been a push to celebrate communion more frequently.
All this to say, the topic has seen much debate. If you believe “as often as you drink it” refers to celebrating communion every time a disciple eats and drinks, then we should be celebrating communion every day. If you believe “as often as you drink it” means “every time you celebrate communion, do it in remembrance of me” then we still don’t have an answer to the frequency. “As often as you drink it” doesn’t answer the question “Yes, but how often?” – if you see what I mean.
Therefore, because there isn’t a definitive biblical case to be made for the frequency, I am comfortable with the monthly celebration common to most Protestant traditions. I wouldn’t mind doing it more, but certainly no less.
I hope that answers your question thoroughly enough!
80-Day Reading Plan
I created this reading plan last night and started this morning. In 80 days it will take you through the New Testament, the Psalms, the Proverbs (twice through), and gives you 18 days of elective readings (you know, to pull in some Old Testament passages). Each day should take 15-20 mins. Just thought I would share!
This Sunday we looked at Ephesians 4:17-24, where Paul encourages Christians to "put away [the] old self" and to "clothe [themselves] with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." As I said briefly in the sermon, part of the "old self" that Christians need to take off are the "customs, practices, values, and attitudes" that they have adopted from the world around them. Many of our assumptions about the "good life" (in other words, what we believe is good, real, important, beautiful, and true) resemble the lies of the world more than the truth in Christ.
Unfortunately, the problem with lies is - they are deceitful. They don't present themselves as malicious little devils that we can easily detect and resist. Rather, they appear to us as sensible and wise ways of living. To see the lies for what they really are, we need renewed minds. Paul says in Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. It takes the renewal of our minds - minds "renewed" by the truth of God - to transform our sense of the "good life."
How do we renew our minds? A lot of different ways! The primary way is to read, study, memorize, wrestle with, and be challenged by the Bible. (This is the primary source of God's truth, of course.) But we should also carefully consider the claims of theologians, philosophers, novelists, artists, and even our neighbors and coworkers. Paul says earlier in Romans (1:20) that although creation is in a fallen state, it is nevertheless embedded with remnants of God's truth and wisdom. So yes, all people are capable of making true and wise claims, even if they don't recognize God as the source of that truth and wisdom.
One theologian who provokes my earnest consideration of truth and wisdom is Timothy Keller. I don't always agree with his claims, but I have found the video below to be wise and refreshing. It's less than 20 mins long and is a fitting companion for the sermon yesterday. Enjoy!
An interesting question came up in Sunday School earlier this week: Why is Acts 8:37 included in the King James Bible, but not this modern translation (pointing to the NIV)? I tried to answer the question as best I could, but started throwing out terms like Textus Receptus and Textual Criticism, which probably left my audience more confused. This morning I found a nice little article which explains the answer better. I've tweaked it a little bit for the purpose of this specific question. Keep in mind that this is a summary of complex issues (an entire book could be dedicated to this question):
It is important to understand that we do not have an "original copy" of any book of the Bible. What we have are copies of copies of copies... (what we call "manuscripts"), from which Textual Critics seek to ascertain the original wording of the author. It is the original wording that most Bible scholars hold to be perfect and inspired by God.
Many modern Christians view "The Bible" that is sitting on their shelves as the perfect, exact word of the living God, but that belief is not quite correct. What is sitting on your shelf is an English rendition OF a particular translator's interpretation OF the group of manuscripts he studied when writing his translation. The KJV is no different.
The difference between the KJV and modern translations is the particular set of manuscripts they are based on. During the 16th century, when the KJV was written, a very limited set of manuscripts were available for translation. But since that time, thousands of manuscripts have been excavated, which have given us more insight into what the original wording might have been.
Modern translators (e.g. the NIV translators) seek to faithfully handle the word of God by considering as many reliable manuscripts as possible during translation - which is exactly what the KJV translators sought to do in their day (they just had far fewer manuscripts to work with.)
So, the NIV translators are not trying to lead you into a fiery demise by deceiving you with false translations. In fact, many of the so-called "missing verses" are referenced in the side-column of your NIV Bible. The only reason they were left out is that the translators of the NIV honestly believed that the evidence was overwhelmingly against those verses being part of the original writing.
I hope that clears up some confusion! Check out the videos below for more information about Greek Manuscripts and Translation.
Greek Manuscripts and Translation
I found these videos to be interesting and insightful. Bill Mounce, whose Basics of Biblical Greek is the preferred Greek textbook among seminaries, explains some of the issues surrounding the Greek manuscripts and translation. Both videos are short and definitely worth your time.
As I mentioned on Sunday, my sermon was an attempt to explain the importance of Christian character formation. My thoughts on this subject have been shaped (in large part) by a book I read several years ago entitled: After You Believe. The video below is a presentation of the book's content by the author, N.T. Wright. Enjoy!
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I've been feeling the need lately to share those extra thoughts that don't make it into Sunday's sermon. So this is where they'll end up!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)