Old Testament Stories Are NOT Morality Stories



The Incarnation Is For The Whole Of Creation

God entered creation and became a part of it as a human man in order to save the rest of humanity. For many, this is all they understand about the incarnation. While it is true, it is not the whole of the truth. In reality, the incarnation is about the establishment of God’s deifying grace to the whole of creation, to elevate creation so that the whole of creation, and not just humanity, can participate in and experience the kingdom of God. Because of sin, God had to free all that has been tainted by sin from its corrupting influence, but that is not the goal of the incarnation: it is only a point along the way towards deification, the participatory union of all creation with God in and through the mediatorship of Jesus Christ.

Due to the nature of the incarnation, many Christians have erroneously thought that all that God was only concerned with the salvation of humanity. While it is true that there is something special about humanity (as there is with the Jews), this special nature is misunderstood when it is used to suggest God neglects or is not interested in the rest of creation. The fact that Jesus took on human nature in the incarnation should not make us think what God accomplished in Jesus was only for humanity. Just as we do not assume the Jewishness of Jesus means that the incarnation is only for the Jews, so the fact that Jesus assumed human nature does not mean the incarnation is only for humanity. Salvation is from the Jews (cf. Jn. 4:22), but it is not limited to the Jews. Salvation is from humanity, but it is not limited to humanity. Likewise, then, deification comes about from the incarnation, through Jesus as a Jew, but the deifying grace is spread throughout the whole of creation.

Though Scripture clearly suggests humanity is special, it also does so by pointing out God’s interest in the rest of creation.  “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matt. 6:26 RSV).   “What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?  Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the sabbath” (Matt. 12:11b-12 RSV). In both of these texts, Jesus tells us that God truly has concern for animals; in the first, God is said to have some providential care for the birds, the second, God is willing to acknowledge the need for humans to take care of their animals if they are in need on the Sabbath. In both instances, Jesus did not deny the special status of humanity, but on the other hand, both statements are based upon the postulate that God takes care of and is concerned with animals and not just humanity. Take away God’s providential care for animals, and the consequences Jesus implied by Jesus’ words will be lost. Jesus presumes care and concern for animals is proof that God cares for humanity.

Continue at: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/henrykarlson/2019/07/the-incarnation-is-for-the-whole-of-creation/

The Challenge of John’s Vision

The book of Revelation also known as the Apocalypse of John can be rather hard to understand. It is, after all, apocalyptic literature – a form a bit ‘interesting’ in the Old Testament prophets and every bit as ‘interesting’ here. I don’t usually worry too much about the book, or try too hard to make sense of it. This isn’t to say it should be ignored or bypassed (I’ve listened to it several times through over the last couple of years along with the rest of the Bible) – just to say that the appropriate interpretation seems somewhat obscure for the most part. But it is a book worth some consideration, so I turned with interest to the chapter in Let Creation Rejoice: Biblical Hope and Ecological Crisis by Jonathan Moo and Robert White where they look at John’s vision.

Read more: https://musingsonscience.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/the-challenge-of-johns-vision/

7 Reasons We Preachers And Teachers Need To Practice Reading The Word Of God Aloud

~ Lawless

In my preaching class as a student, the professor required us to stand before the class and read a Scripture passage. He critiqued each of us for our reading. At the time, I thought the exercise was an unnecessary, if not demeaning, one. Now many years later, I’m convinced the professor took us in the right direction. Here’s why we need to practice reading the text aloud before we teach it publicly:

  1. The Word of God is the Word of God. That simple truth ought to make us think deeply about how clearly we read the Word aloud when we’re teaching or preaching. We must handle the Word with care.
  2. We often spend much more time on preparing the sermon than on reading the text aloud. That makes sense, but many of us devote no time to reading the text aloud. It should not be that the first time we read the text aloud is when we stand before God’s people.
  3. We sometimes stumble over hard-to-pronounce words in the Scripture when we don’t first practice reading the text. In some cases, our congregation then hears our mispronunciation more loudly than the rest of the reading. Practice may not result in perfect pronunciations, but we’re much less likely to stumble if we’ve already worked diligently on reading the Word.

Read the rest: http://chucklawless.com/2019/07/7-reasons-we-preachers-and-teachers-need-to-practice-reading-the-word-of-god-aloud/

Reading Romans Backwards

In Paul’s estimation, the strong and weak should welcome one another as Christ has welcomed them.

Excerpted From Reading Romans Backwards By Scot McKnight

In his letter to the Romans, Paul’s biggest and best question for the strong as well as for the weak is this one: With whom did you dine last night? He’ll press it further: Are you the strong dining with the weak or not? Yes or no? That’s the question—the heart of lived theology.

The central action of Christian ethics for Paul in Romans is welcome, the foundation is the grace of God in Christ, and the true end of that act of welcoming is the glory of God. How the strong or the weak were to get to the act of welcome is not spelled out in detail.

Reading Romans backwards will get us there, for it shows that Romans 1–4 and 5–8 offer what amounts to two alternatives, one proposed by the weak and one proposed by Paul, whose proposal stands against both the strong and the weak. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. For now we have to look at the theme of welcome.

The instruction to welcome is found at 14:1 and 15:7, and it lurks in 15:1 in other terms (“put up with” means “to shoulder the differences and decisions of the weak”): Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions (14:1). We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves (15:1). Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God (15:7).

This welcoming is about eating with one another. It is about invitations to those unlike us to our home and our table and our prayers and our food, and it is about doing this as siblings, not rivals and enemies. In Romans 15:7–13, Paul provides a rationale for a theology of the strong and the weak welcoming one another.

First-century Bible readers like Paul either had the Bible committed to memory or in conversation with others could come up with texts that mattered, and in this instance Paul turns to the Bible to deepen his argument for welcoming one another. Paul combines the Greek translations of Psalm 18:49 with Deuteronomy 32:43, with Psalm 117:1, and then finally with Isaiah 11:10. There appears to be a subtle move in these quotations, but it hinges on knowing who is speaking in the first use of the Old Testament: “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles.” If the “I” is Christ himself, then perhaps the first three citations are spoken by Christ to the churches of Rome. And it appears Christ is the one speaking: in verse 8, we read, “Christ … might confirm,” and Christ continues into verse 9 with “might glorify.” If this is the case, then Christ is speaking in the quotation in verse 9. That is, it is Christ who will confess God among the Gentiles (15:9), then perhaps also (I only suggest) it is Christ who exhorts the Gentiles to rejoice “with his people” (Israel, the weak, 15:10), and then it is also Christ who exhorts the Gentiles to “praise the Lord” (15:11). The fourth citation from the Old Testament, then, is a commentary by Paul on Jesus as the ruler of the Gentiles, too. This theme of the praise of the Gentiles, which is present in each citation from the Old Testament, reveals the doxological orientation of the Pauline mission and anticipates how he understands the collection for the saints (15:15–16, 25–27).

We have not wandered from the concrete expression of lived theology here that crystallizes into the theme of welcoming one another as siblings. As Christ has welcomed the strong and the weak, so the strong and the weak are to welcome one another. And as Christ welcomed them, so too it was Christ speaking through the Scriptures to announce that the work of God in the world expanded from Israel into the Gentiles to bring them all into one family, the body of Christ. Paul’s focus here is not on Jews in general, but on Jewish believers in Jesus as Messiah, and it is they who are to see in these Scriptures a summons to welcome the strong to the table as siblings.

Excerpted from Reading Romans Backwards: A Gospel of Peace in the Midst of Empire by Scot McKnight. Copyright © 2019 by Baylor University Press. Reprinted by arrangement with Baylor University Press.

Exegetical Gems From Biblical Greek, By Ben Merkle


The science of interpretation

~ RC Sproul