Archive for October, 2007

My Wife’s Blog

October 29, 2007

Indeed, my wife (Rachel) now has her own blog. I am excited about it and the ministry that I know it will become to many women. It is called “Willing Hands” from Proverbs 31:13: “She seeks wool and flax and works with willing hands.” There she aims to share spiritual devotion alongside the practical outworkings of her walk with the Lord in our home and within the church (e.g. what she learned from the Scriptures, her sewing projects, her husband’s favorite recipes, etc.). Without question, she is an excellent wife and the Lord’s favor upon me. I pray that it will not only be a ministry to you guys, but to your wives as well. You will find the link under “Family and Friends” as “My Wife”.

John Owen On Stimulating Contemplation of the Glory of Christ

October 29, 2007

In his book, Meditations on the Glory of Christ [1684] (Ross-Shire: Christian Focus, 2004 reprint), John Owen gives several helpful (and needed) directions to his readers on how to stimulate contemplation on the glory of Jesus Christ. I found them important for the strengthening of the saints in the fight of faith and the constant war they must wage against worldliness, that damning relationship that slowly lures us away from what the Scriptures tell us is truly good, righteous, and true. I commend his pastoral guidance to you here, briefly:

  1. Do Not Waste Your Thoughts: “Let us get it fixed on our souls and in our minds, that this glory of Christ in the divine constitution of his person is the best, the most noble, useful, beneficial object that we can be conversant about in our thoughts, or cleave to in our affections” (78).
  2. Study the Scripture: “To behold [the glory of Christ], is not a work of fancy or imagination; it is not conversing with an image framed by the art of men without, or that of our own fancy within, but of faith exercised on divine revelations. …And we are in the best frame of duty, when the principal motive in our minds to contend earnestly for retaining the possession of the Scripture against all that would deprive us of it, or discourage us from daily diligent search into it, is this, that they would take from us the only glass in which we may behold the glory of Christ” (81, 84; italics mine).
  3. Be Disciplined in Meditation: “It is to be feared that there are some who profess religion with an appearance of strictness, who never separate themselves from all other occasions, to meditate on Christ and his glory; and yet, with a strange inconsistency of apprehensions, they will profess that they desire nothing more than to behold his glory in heaven forever. …It is impossible that he who never meditates with delight on the glory of Christ here in this world, who labours not to behold it by faith as it is revealed in the Scripture, should ever have any real gracious desire to behold it in heaven. They may love and desire the fruition of their own imaginations; they cannot do so of the glory of Christ, of which they are ignorant, and with which they are unacquainted” (85).
  4. Take Every Opportunity to think of Christ: “Let your occasional thoughts of Christ be many, and multiplied every day. …And a great rebuke it ought to be to us, when Christ has at any time in a day been long out of our minds” (85, 88).
  5. Admire, Adore, and Give Thanks: “The design of this discourse [Rev 5:9-13] is no more, but that when by faith we have attained a view of the glory of Christ, in our contemplations on his person, we should not pass it over as a notion of truth which we assent to, namely, that he is thus glorious in himself, but endeavour to affect our hearts with it, as that in which our own principal interest lies; in which it will be effectual to the transformation of our souls into his image” (90).

Paul: Follower of Jesus Or Founder of Christianity?

October 24, 2007

Recently, I just finished reading another great book for my New Testament Theology class by David Wenham. I highly recommend reading it. Wenham does a wonderful job showing Paul’s own familiarity with Jesus’ teachings, so that we see Paul’s epistles as the continuation and interpretation of Jesus’ theology found in the Gospel traditions. It is not a difficult read, but an extremely important one for New Testament studies and the contemporary problems of various church leaders who are rather bitter with Paul, as if he taught something contrary to Jesus. The following is a brief on Wenham’s book [and by the way, I would also commend to you a shorter book he wrote with the same goal, but presented from a little different angle: Paul and Jesus: The True Story (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 195 pp.].

Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?

Wenham, David. Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995. 452 pp.

Since the days of F. C. Baur (1792-1860), who argued that significant variations existed between Paul’s theology and the beliefs of the Jerusalem church, NT scholarship has been rather suspicious of any affirmations of continuity in the teachings of Jesus and the Apostle to the Gentiles. Scholars arguing along the same lines as William Wrede (1859-1906) have insisted that Paul’s “innovative” ideas, theological commitments, and pioneering mission work wrecked the original intentions Jesus had for his followers. Consequently, today’s Christianity would be better off without Paul’s emphases. In his Paul, Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity?, David Wenham finds such claims about Paul’s dissimilarity to Jesus unwarranted. On the contrary, he argues that Paul was not so much an innovator of Christianity as he was a follower of the Christ, who died and rose again on his behalf. Although his epistles make few explicit references to Jesus’ life and ministry, Paul provides plenty of theological connections that bear witness to his own awareness and embrace of the historical traditions of Jesus (11). For Wenham, “Paul is much better described as ‘follower of Jesus’ than as ‘founder of Christianity'” (33). (more…)

Jewish Messianic Expectation in the Second Temple Period?

October 24, 2007

Over the past few weeks, I have been laboring through some Second Temple literature in order to find out whether or not there was a continuous messianic expectation among Jews throughout the Second Temple period. This meant I had to read literature such as the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Josephus, Philo, and, my favorite, the Bible. It was a challenge to read through the extra-canonical resources; however, it made studying the Old and New Testaments all the more sweeter, and reminded me of how thankful I should be more often for these precious words of life concerning the Christ, my Redeemer. I posted the paper on the “Theology & Exegesis” page, under “Exegesis and Interpretation”, that is, if you are interested. If you want the shorter version: there was.

The morning I was to present my paper to the class, God blessed me with his word during my morning prayer time. My presentation was to include many references to the messianic emphases of the Old Testament and Second Temple literature, especially the peculiar references to the God-ordained Davidic throne. Providentially, my readings for that morning were from Psalm 89, Jeremiah 33, and Revelation 5. I will give you a taste by quoting portions of them here: 

“I [God] have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever and build up your throne to all generations” (Ps 89:3-4). 

“In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness” (Jer 33:15-16).

“Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals” (Rev 5:5).

Once again, the Lord showed me how intimately involved he is in my life, even in so orchestrating all things (e.g. presentation dates, scripture reading, morning prayer time, a paper about the Messiah, etc.) so that I was able to bask in the glory of the Son of David, Jesus Christ, before I went to class. What is more, the Lord will be doing this for his children forever. Glory…Glory…Glory be to God in the highest!