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Category Archives: Bible Study Helps

Bible study is the personal or communal study of the Scriptures, usually with a focus on the practical implications for contemporary living the Christian devotion.

DAVID JEREMIAH: 7 Ways To Study The Bible Effectively

David Jeremiah SB

(1) READ IT – Find time every day to read the Bible. Build this into your routine each morning, Pray as you read, asking God for insight.

(2) LOOK FOR A NEW VERSE EACH DAY – As you read, ask God for a special verse to meet that day’s need. Read until you arrive at that verse, and then write down and carry it with you. You’ll discover new strength!

(3) STUDY BOOK-TO-VERSE-TO-WORD – One of the best methods of Bible study is book-to-verse-to-word, some times called inductive Bible study. Choose the book you want to study, then read through the book introduction and the Bible text several times for a sweep of its contents. Then read all you can about the background of that book. Next…

(4) LOOK FOR THE OUTLINE OR THEME OF THE BOOK – After that, you’re ready to study chapter by chapter. Read through each chapter, making notes, underlining verses, and looking for key thoughts. When you have a good idea of what each chapter says, study the individual verses themselves, down to the various words that are used. Then…

(5) READ THE BIBLE WITH PEN IN HAND – Underline, circle, and draw lines from verse to verse. Thoroughly read (A good study Bible – like the Jeremiah Study Bible) notes and their cross references. Scribble comments and insights in the margins, and post dates besides verses that God gives you on particular days. Someone once said, “A well-marked Bible means a well-fed soul.” You can also use a journal to analyze sentences, paraphrase verses, and condense passages, list points, and record observations.

(6) MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE AND MEDITATE ON IT – Memorized Scripture is the fodder for meditation, and meditating on God’s Word opens the door of our hearts to the real riches of Scripture. When we memorize God’s Word, we can think about it all the time, mulling it over as we eat breakfast, as we drive to work, as we fall asleep at night. We digest its meaning, and it becomes part of us.

(7) JOIN A BIBLE STUDY GROUP – One of the most exciting developments in many churches has been the proliferation of Bible study groups. Find a good group and sign up. The right small group can make a big difference in your appreciation of Scripture.

SOURCE: *Adapted from “Ways To Study The Bible Effectively” in The Jeremiah Study Bible. Worthy Media, 2013. xv.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Jeremiah

Dr. David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, and chancellor of San Diego Christian College. He is also the founder of Turning Point, a ministry committed to providing sound Bible teaching through national radio and television broadcasting. Dr. Jeremiah has authored numerous books, including the best-selling “Captured by Grace,” “Life Wide Open,” “My Heart’s Desire,” and “Sanctuary.”

 

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BOOK REVIEW: James Hamilton’s – “WHAT IS BIBLICAL THEOLOGY?”

A GUIDE TO THE BIBLE’S STORY, SYMBOLISM, AND PATTERNS

WIBT? Hamilton

Book Review by David P. Craig

My wife and I have a tradition that we have practiced over our 21 years of marriage. Once every two to three years we plan a trip somewhere in the United States we’ve never been to before. We have gone to Boston, Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, Honolulu, Minneapolis, Orlando, Austin, San Diego, and several others. Before we go to the city we buy a really good map that gives us the lay of the land. Once we are there the first thing we do is go on a city-wide bus tour. In doing these two things it helps us to appreciate the history of the city, landmarks, and highlights we don’t want to miss during our stay. We get an overview and the big picture of the city before we enjoy its constituent parts.

Hamiton’s book is like a map or tour of the Bible. He helps you not to miss the most important stories, symbols, and patterns that are featured in the Scriptures. All of the biblical authors do “biblical theology.” They have a framework or world-view through which they interpret and describe the events, stories, and principles through this lens. All of the authors interpret Scripture in three ways (1) They interpret the words or accounts of God’s words and deeds that have been passed down to him; (2) They interpret world history from its creation to its final consummation; and (3) They interpret events and statements that they describe. According to Hamilton biblical theology in essence “means the interpretive perspective reflected in the way the biblical authors have presented their understanding of earlier Scripture, redemptive history, and the events they are describing, recounting, celebrating, or addressing in narratives, poems, proverbs, letters, and apocalypses.”

By taking into account the different genres of Scripture and their various themes, Hamilton helps the reader appreciate the biblical “lay of the land” in it’s varied history, and its consummation centered around the gospel and the glory of God in Christ. I think the thesis of this book is wonderfully expressed by Hamilton in the second chapter: “Our aim is to trace out the contours of the network of assumptions reflected in the writings of the biblical authors. If we can see what the biblical authors assumed about story, symbol, and church, we will glimpse the world as they saw it. To catch a glimpse of the world as they saw it is to see the real world.”

I believe this book is indeed a fantastic guide in helping all Bible students to understand, appreciate, and enjoy the biblical message intended by the author of the word – the Word – Jesus himself. We learn how to read, understand, and interpret the Bible from the perspective of the biblical authors, which is to learn a divinely inspired perspective. I believe that Hamilton achieves his hope and desired purpose for everyone who reads this book: “My hope is that you cross the bridge into their [the biblical authors] thought-world and never come back. I hope you will breathe the air of the Bible’s world, recognize it as the real Narnia, and never want to leave.”

 

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BOOK REVIEW: B. TYLER ELLIS’ “QUESTION EVERYTHING”

A GREAT WAY TO INTERACT WITH THE BIBLE

QE ELLIS

Book Review by David P. Craig

The Bible is without question the best selling book of all-time. However, it’s also perhaps the most un-read or neglected book of all time as well. J.H. Smith has said, “If all the Christians were to dust their Bibles at the same time, we would have the greatest dust storm in history.” In my opinion nothing is more important than daily intake and interaction with the Bible. As Vance Havner has stated, “If you see a Bible that is falling apart, it probably belongs to someone who isn’t!”

The problem for many people when coming to the Scriptures is they get bogged down with names they can’t pronounce, places they are unfamiliar with, and concepts that are sometimes obtuse and abstract. What Ellis has provided in this very helpful book is a question for every single verse in the New Testament. In other words, he has provided a way for the reader to interact and dialogue with God. He has provided a resource that keeps your mind, heart, and will focused because it is a means of studying the Scriptures relationally by asking great questions of the text.

Ellis has structured the book in several helpful ways:

(1) Each chapter has a question for each verse of the New Testament. For example for Matthew 1:1 the question asked is “Who is Jesus identified as?” There are either “What?”, “Why?”, “Whose?”, “When?”, “How?”, or “Where?” questions for each verse and for every chapter of the New Testament. There is ample room provided for you to write your answer down for each question in the space provided.

(2) The actual verses aren’t included so you can read from whatever translation you prefer and answer the questions accordingly.

(3) At the end of each chapter there is a place to write answers to the following 4 questions: (a) What does the chapter reveal to you about God? (b) What does the chapter reveal to you about yourself? (c) What does the chapter reveal to you about your relationship with others? (d) What difference does it make?

There are several great strengths to studying the Bible in this manner of asking questions:

(1) It is more like a dialogue than a monologue. You are actually interacting and connecting with God in your reading of the Scriptures. It is as though you are sitting across the table from Jesus Himself – listening, asking questions, in relationship with Him through the text.

(2) It helps your mind not to wander off. You are constantly thinking about what the text is saying – making observations; interpreting; and applying the text to your life.

(3) It’s a great way to read the Bible with your family, friends, or in a group Bible study. It allows you to discuss what the Bible is actually saying in the context of community, fellowship, and getting different perspectives on the questions being asked of the text.

(4) It teaches you how to ask good questions and how to become a more observant and obedient student of the Scriptures.

(5) It will bring to the forefront of your life the deepest and profoundest questions and answers of eternal importance: Why did God create humanity? Why am I here? How can I know God personally? And many others.

(6) Simply by learning to ask good questions you will become a better student in all the great subjects of life. It will help you to become a better reader so that your reading and comprehension will improve in whatever subject you take on.

(7) It will remind you daily of how relevant the Scriptures are to your own life and those you work, study, live, and recreate with.

(8) You will become more like Jesus in your thinking and speech – because one of the most brilliant things about Jesus was He was a master of asking great questions. The more you read this book the better you will become at wisely asking questions of Scripture, of others, and of life itself.

(9) My mentor Bobb Biehl has said, “If you ask shallow questions you get shallow answers, if you ask profound questions you get profound answers.” Therefore, this book does a great job of helping you ask profoundly great questions so that you will get profoundly great answers to your questions of the most profound book in the Universe.

(10) Perhaps the greatest aspect of this book is that it helps you to listen to what God has to say to you through the text. So many studies today focus on the question: “What does this mean to me?” rather than focusing on “What does God mean by saying this to me?” It helps us to listen to what God is actually saying, not what we want Him to say. I think that’s the most important aspect of this practical book.

I highly recommend this resource for students, teachers, pastors, and anyone who wants to have a deeper intimacy with God, understanding of His Word, and greater desire to obey Him in all aspects of life. Ellis has provided an outstanding resource that will only enhance and enrich your experience with God through His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

*B. Tyler Ellis is a College Minister in Newark, DE and you can follow him on Twitter @BTylerEllis and has a website: btylerellis.com/tyler-3/

 

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Book Review: The Gospel Transformation Bible

How The Gospel is Revealed in All 66 Books of the Bible

Book Review By David P. Craig

Gospel Transformation Bible

What’s Unique About the Gospel Transformation Bible’s Notes?

(1) It’s unique in how it handles applying the Scriptures. There are many good application study Bibles on the market today. Most of these Bibles focus on two aspects of application: (a) What should we do according to what this passage is teaching? and (b) Where should we be applying these truths? The Gospel Transformation Bible is unique in that it helps you focus on two other important elements of application: (c) Why we should apply the gospel daily; and (d) How we can apply the gospel daily. It guides us in having a proper motivation for obeying God – out of gratitude for His amazing grace. It also demonstrates how we are enabled by the power of the gospel to do what God calls us to do.

(2) It’s unique in the fact that it shows how all the major themes of the Scriptures are integrated and how all these themes ultimately point to or find their fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.

(3) It’s unique in that it shows how each passage is a part of the flow of the gospel in the immediate context, but also in the over all thrust of redemptive history in the rest of the Bible.

(4) It’s unique in that it demonstrates how the good news of the gospel is just as evident in the Old Testament as in the New Testament.

(5) It’s unique in demonstrating how the message of the Bible about God’s love promises, points to, and culminates in Jesus.

(6) It’s unique in showing how the finished work of Christ matters not only in relationship to our past and our future, but especially in the present. We need the power of the gospel to help us in all the difficult realities of life – suffering, pain, decision making, identity issues, and so forth.

(7) It’s unique in that it demonstrate how the grace God pervades all of Scripture and empowers us to stand firm in the gospel over the attacks we face daily with the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

(8) It’s unique in that it gives us pointers to Christ and to the gospel in places that we wouldn’t be naturally inclined to see them (Much like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 who didn’t understand how Isaiah was talking about Jesus).

(9) It’s unique in that it helps you focus on the big idea that the comprehensive theme that ties the 66 books of the Bible all together is the unfolding narrative of God’s commitment to redeem a family from every language, tribe, and people group and make all things new through Jesus. The notes show how every passage in every chapter of every book in the Bible unfolds the plan of redemption through the gospel.

(10) It’s unique in that it helps you delight in finding Christ for yourself in the text, and seek to be transformed into his likeness out of gratitude for His amazing grace displayed time and again in the gospel. In other words the notes focus on information (knowledge) that transforms the heart (emotions and the will). It isn’t about duty, so much as delight over who God is and what He has provided for us in the gospel of Christ.

(11) It’s unique in that the scholar’s who write the introductions and notes to each book of the Bible articulate how each author  focuses on  how the particulars of each book reveals and unfolds the grace of God and how their message transforms the heart.

(12) It’s unique in that the notes are targeted at the heart so that your heart is transformed by the Knowldge of the greatness of the gospel. It’s about our identity in Christ and that we serve Him out of our renewed affections for Who God is and what He has done for us through Christ’s Person and work. It is not so much about what you do, or what you know, but about who you “are” in Christ.

The Book of Daniel As An Example

Our temptation or inclination is to typically focus on the prophetic aspects (controversies) of the book of Daniel, or the heroism of Daniel and his friends as exiles in Babylon. The Bible in other words is about information or about us. However, Daniel is really about the people of God who are in exile in a pagan environment. However, in the midst of that exile Daniel and his friends remember that God has given them His Word and that He will be faithful to His promises. Daniel and his friends trust God even when they can’t take care of themselves. The message of Daniel is a message of grace. It is the message that God provides for Daniel and his friends what they can’t provide for themselves. Daniel’s trust and hope lie not in his own wisdom and strength, but in the wisdom, promises, and character of his God. It is in believing in God’s promises and grace that Daniel gets his strength.

What we learn from Daniel is that as the grace of God was revealed to him in the past, present, and future, so can we hope in the promises of God which are ultimately fulfilled in Christ. God demonstrates his faithfulness to Daniel and to us through His revealed prophecies and promises which are found in the coming of Christ. Daniel isn’t primarily about heroism or prophecy, but about the grace of God that culminates in the gospel of Christ. Our hope as exiles in this world is the same. Our hope is in the gospel which frees us from our past, empowers us for today, and gives us hope for the future.

10 Reasons I Recommend The Gospel Transformation Bible

(1) It will help you see the types, promises, and promises of God in the Old Testament that are ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

(2) It will give you guiding principles for studying how each passage, book, and period of the Bible unfolds the theme of redemption from Genesis to Revelation.

(3) It will impact your affections for Christ and the gospel. You will be touched by the majestic and intimate grace of God for you.

(4) It will motivate you to share the gospel with others. It will re-ignite an excitement in you for the gospel that will overflow out of your heart to your mouth with those who don’t know about Jesus.

(5) It will help you to see that all of the Scriptures are about Jesus. You will learn how to see Jesus through the “Jesus lens” as you read the Old and New Testament’s.

(7) It will help you become less legalistic or irreligious. It will help you to understand God’s grace in such a way that you become a more gracious and balanced individual.

(8) It will help you see the big picture of the Bible. It’s kind of like putting a bunch of pieces together of a large puzzle without the picture. When you read through all the notes in this Bible you will see a beautiful tapestry of Christ – and that He was there all along. He longs for you to discover and bask in His grace.

(9) It will renew and excitement in you for Bible study – and not just to know more doctrine, but because you will find yourself becoming more like Jesus. It will help to transform your character as you are conforming to the image of Christ.

(10) It will help you to personally know God more intimately. You may fall in love with God for the first time, or may rekindle your love for Him. Because you will find in the notes how the message of the Bible and all of history, and meaning itself finds its culmination in a love relationship with God through Christ Jesus.

*I was provided with a Bible to read and review by the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

 

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Emergency Numbers in The Bible

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33:14b

dark sunset at the beach

When in SORROW, call John 14

When people FAIL you, call Psalm 27

When you have SINNED, call Psalm 51

When you WORRY, call Matthew 6:19-34

When you are in DANGER, call Psalm 91

When God seems FAR AWAY, call Psalm 139

When your FAITH needs stirring, call Hebrews 11

When you are LONELY and FEARFUL, call Psalm 23

When you grow BITTER and CRITICAL, call 1 Corinthians 13

When you feel DOWN and OUT, call Romans 8:18-39

When you want REST and PEACE, call Matthew 11:25-30

When the WORLD seems BIGGER than God, call Psalm 90

When you want Christian ASSURANCE, call Romans 8:1-30

When you leave home for LABOR or TRAVEL, call Psalm 121

When your PRAYERS grow narrow or SELFISH, call Psalm 67

When you want COURAGE for a task, call Joshua 1

When you think of INVESTMENTS and RETURNS, call Mark 10

How to get along with DIFFICULT people, call Romans 12

For great INVENTION/OPPORTUNITY, call Isaiah 55

For Paul’s secret to HAPPINESS, call Colossians 3:12-17

For a SUMMARY OF CHRISTIANITY, call 1 Corinthians 5:15-19

If you are DEPRESSED, call Psalm 27

If you want to be FRUITFUL, call John 15

If your FINANCIALLY BROKE, call Psalm 37

If your are LOSING CONFIDENCE in PEOPLE, call 1 Corinthians 13

If people seem UNKIND, call John 15

If your are DISCOURAGED about your WORK, call Psalm 126

If you find the world growing SMALL, and you GREAT, call Psalm 19

 

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An Acrostic for S.C.R.I.P.T.U.R.E

All Scripture is to/for:

Bible opened image

S-anctify: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:17

C-orrect: “All Scriptures is breathed out by God and profitable for…correction…” – 2 Timothy 3:16

R-ejoice: “The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart.” - Psalm 19:8

I-nstruct: “All Scriptures is breathed out by God and profitable for…instruction…” - 2 Timothy 3:16

P-urity: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth [of the Word]…” – 1 Peter 1:22

T-each: “Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!” – Psalm 119:12

U-nite: “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” Psalm 86:11

R-eprove:  “All Scriptures is breathed out by God and profitable for…reproof…” - 2 Timothy 3:16

be E-aten: “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” – Jeremiah 15:16

 

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Charles Spurgeon’s 7 Principles of Bible Study

How To Read The Bible by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Bible opened image

(1) READ THE BIBLE WITH AN EARNEST DESIRE TO UNDERSTAND IT. 

- Do not be content to just read the words of Scripture. Seek to grasp the message they contain.

(2) READ THE SCRIPTURES WITH A SIMPLE, CHILDLIKE FAITH AND HUMILITY.

- Believe what God reveals. Reason must bow to God’s revelation.

(3) READ THE WORD WITH A SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE AND SELF-APPLICATION.

- Apply what God says to yourself and obey His will in all things.

(4) READ THE HOLY SCRIPTURES EVERY DAY.

- We quickly lose the nourishment and strength of yesterday’s bread. We must feed our souls daily upon the manna God has given us.

(5) READ THE WHOLE BIBLE AND READ IT IN AN ORDERLY WAY.

- “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable.” I know of know better way to read the Bible than to start at the beginning and read straight through to the end, a portion every day, comparing Scripture with Scripture.

(6) READ THE WORD OF GOD FAIRLY AND HONESTLY.

- As a general rule, any passage of Scripture means what it appears to mean. Interpret every passage in this simple manner, in its context.

(7) READ THE BIBLE WITH CHRIST CONSTANTLY IN VIEW.

- The whole Bible is about Him. Look for Him on every page. He is there. If you fail to see Him there, you need to read that page again.

About Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

C. H. Spurgeon was to nineteenth-century England what D. L Moody was to America. Although Spurgeon never attended theological school, by the age of twenty-one he was the most popular preacher in London.He preached to crowds of ten thousand at Exeter Hall and the Surrey Music Hall. Then when the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built, thousands gathered every Sunday for over forty years to hear his lively sermons.In addition to his regular pastoral duties, he founded Sunday schools, churches, an orphanage, and the Pastor’s College. He edited a monthly church magazine and promoted literature distribution.Sincerely and straightforwardly he denounced error both in the Church of England and among his own Baptists. An ardent evangelical, he deplored the trend of the day toward biblical criticism.

 
 

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Finding Jesus in 2 Corinthians

Reading The Bible Through The Jesus Lens in the Book of 2 Corinthians

From Biblical Book to Biblical Hook

How To Read The Bible Through the Jesus Lens IMage

Chart adapted from *Dr. Michael Williams Book

Title for 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians: Theme

2 Corinthians 2:17

“Self-Giving”

God directs Paul to explain and vindicate his apostolic authority while encouraging the generosity of the Corinthian church.

“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”

Christ-Focus in 2 Corinthians

Implications from 2 Corinthians

Hooks from 2 Corinthians

 Jesus gave Himself completely for the welfare of His people.

 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.

 - 2 Corinthians 8:9

 God will provide for our needs as we give ourselves to others.

 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

 - 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

 Is it really better to give than to receive?

 What if giving involves giving up comfort, safety, or even your life? Why would anyone give like that?

 Is it possible for you to give any more than you have already received?

 What have you already received from God?

About the Author:

Michael James Williams image

Michael James Williams in his own words: “After my conversion in the U. S. Navy (in a submarine beneath the North Atlantic!), I entered Columbia Bible College, where I received a B.A. (1985). This was followed by an M.A. in Religion at Westminster Theological Seminary (1987) and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (1999). In 2000, I was ordained in the Christian Reformed Church, and since 1995 have been teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary. I have also taught courses at Westminster Theological Seminary, the University of Pennsylvania, and brief stints in Limuru, Kenya; Donetsk, Ukraine; and Warsaw, Poland. In addition to articles on Old Testament topics in various reference works and academic journals, and contributing to and editing Mishneh Todah: Studies in Deuteronomy and Its Cultural Environment in Honor of Jeffrey H. Tigay (2009); I have authored Deception in Genesis: A Comprehensive Analysis of a Unique Biblical Phenomenon (2001); The Prophet and His Message: Reading Old Testament Prophecy Today (2003); and, most recently, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture. Grand Rapids, Zondervan (2012). My amazing wife, Dawn, and I enjoy hiking and all things outdoors.”

 

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The Jesus Focus in 2 Corinthians

Reading The Bible Through The Jesus Lens in the Book of 2 Corinthians

From Biblical Book to Biblical Hook

Chart adapted from *Dr. Michael Williams Book

How To Read The Bible Through the Jesus Lens IMage

Title for 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians: Theme

2 Corinthians 2:17

“Self-Giving”

God directs Paul to explain and vindicate his apostolic authority while encouraging the generosity of the Corinthian church.

“Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”

Christ-Focus in 2 Corinthians

Implications from 2 Corinthians

Hooks from 2 Corinthians

Jesus gave himself completely for the welfare of his people.

 

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. – 2 Corinthians 8:9

God will provide for our needs as we give ourselves to others.

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. – 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

Is it really better to give than receive?

Which would you rather do?

What if giving involves giving up comfort, safety, or even your life?

Why would anyone give like that?

Is it possible for you to give more than you already have received?

What have you already received from God?

 Michael James Williams image

*Michael James Williams in his own words: “After my conversion in the U. S. Navy (in a submarine beneath the North Atlantic!), I entered Columbia Bible College, where I received a B.A. (1985). This was followed by an M.A. in Religion at Westminster Theological Seminary (1987) and a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (1999). In 2000, I was ordained in the Christian Reformed Church, and since 1995 have been teaching at Calvin Theological Seminary. I have also taught courses at Westminster Theological Seminary, the University of Pennsylvania, and brief stints in Limuru, Kenya; Donetsk, Ukraine; and Warsaw, Poland. In addition to articles on Old Testament topics in various reference works and academic journals, and contributing to and editing “Mishneh Todah: Studies in Deuteronomy and Its Cultural Environment in Honor of Jeffrey H. Tigay” (2009); I have authored “Deception in Genesis: A Comprehensive Analysis of a Unique Biblical Phenomenon” (2001); “The Prophet and His Message: Reading Old Testament Prophecy Today” (2003); and, most recently, “How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens: A Guide to Christ-Focused Reading of Scripture” (2012). My amazing wife, Dawn, and I enjoy hiking and all things outdoors.”

 

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God’s Grace Displayed in Every Book of the Bible by Dane Ortlund

The Grace of God in the Bible by Dr. Dane Ortlund

Crosses 3 in sunset image

There is always a danger of squeezing the Bible into a mold we bring to it rather than letting the Bible mold us. And, there could hardly be more diversity within the Protestant canon–diverse genres, historical settings, authors, literary levels, ages of history.

But while the Bible is not uniform, it is unified. The many books of the one Bible are not like the many pennies in the one jar. The pennies in the jar look the same, yet are disconnected; the books of the Bible (like the organs of a body) look different, yet are interconnected. As the past two generations’ recovery of biblical theology has shown time and again, certain motifs course through the Scripture from start to end, tying the whole thing together into a coherent tapestry–kingdom, temple, people of God, creation/new creation, and so on.

Yet underneath and undergirding all of these, it seems to me, is the motif of God’s grace, his favor and love to the undeserving. Don’t we see the grace of God in every book of the Bible? (NT books include the single verse that best crystallizes the point.)

Genesis shows God’s grace to a universally wicked world as he enters into relationship with a sinful family line (Abraham) and promises to bless the world through him.

Exodus shows God’s grace to his enslaved people in bringing them out of Egyptian bondage.

Leviticus shows God’s grace in providing his people with a sacrificial system to atone for their sins.

Numbers shows God’s grace in patiently sustaining his grumbling people in the wilderness and bringing them to the border of the promised land not because of them but in spite of them.

Deuteronomy shows God’s grace in giving the people the new land ‘not because of your righteousness’ (ch. 9).

Joshua shows God’s grace in giving Israel victory after victory in their conquest of the land with neither superior numbers nor superior obedience on Israel’s part.

Judges shows God’s grace in taking sinful, weak Israelites as leaders and using them to purge the land, time and again, of foreign incursion and idolatry.

Ruth shows God’s grace in incorporating a poverty-stricken, desolate, foreign woman into the line of Christ.

1 and 2 Samuel show God’s grace in establishing the throne (forever—2 Sam 7) of an adulterous murderer.

1 and 2 Kings show God’s grace in repeatedly prolonging the exacting of justice and judgment for kingly sin ‘for the sake of’ David. (And remember: by the ancient hermeneutical presupposition of corporate solidarity, by which the one stands for the many and the many for the one, the king represented the people; the people were in their king; as the king went, so went they.)

1 and 2 Chronicles show God’s grace by continually reassuring the returning exiles of God’s self-initiated promises to David and his sons.

Ezra shows God’s grace to Israel in working through the most powerful pagan ruler of the time (Cyrus) to bring his people back home to a rebuilt temple.

Nehemiah shows God’s grace in providing for the rebuilding of the walls of the city that represented the heart of God’s promises to his people.

Esther shows God’s grace in protecting his people from a Persian plot to eradicate them through a string of ‘fortuitous’ events.

Job shows God’s grace in vindicating the sufferer’s cry that his redeemer lives (19:25), who will put all things right in this world or the next.

Psalms shows God’s grace by reminding us of, and leading us in expressing, the hesed (relentless covenant love) God has for his people and the refuge that he is for them.

Proverbs shows us God’s grace by opening up to us a world of wisdom in leading a life of happy godliness.

Ecclesiastes shows God’s grace in its earthy reminder that the good things of life can never be pursued as the ultimate things of life and that it is God who in his mercy satisfies sinners (note 7:20; 8:11).

Song of Songs shows God’s grace and love for his bride by giving us a faint echo of it in the pleasures of faithful human sexuality.

Isaiah shows God’s grace by reassuring us of his presence with and restoration of contrite sinners.

Jeremiah shows God’s grace in promising a new and better covenant, one in which knowledge of God will be universally internalized.

Lamentations shows God’s grace in his unfailing faithfulness in the midst of sadness.

Ezekiel shows God’s grace in the divine heart surgery that cleansingly replaces stony hearts with fleshy ones.

Daniel shows God’s grace in its repeated miraculous preservation of his servants.

Hosea shows God’s grace in a real-live depiction of God’s unstoppable love toward his whoring wife.

Joel shows God’s grace in the promise to pour out his Spirit on all flesh.

Amos shows God’s grace in the Lord’s climactic promise of restoration in spite of rampant corruption.

Obadiah shows God’s grace by promising judgment on Edom, Israel’s oppressor, and restoration of Israel to the land in spite of current Babylonian captivity.

Jonah shows God’s grace toward both immoral Nineveh and moral Jonah, irreligious pagans and a religious prophet, both of whom need and both of whom receive the grace of God.

Micah shows God’s grace in the prophecy’s repeated wonder at God’s strange insistence on ‘pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression’ (7:18).

Nahum shows God’s grace in assuring Israel of good news’ and ‘peace,’ promising that the Assyrians have tormented them for the last time.

Habakkuk shows God’s grace that requires nothing but trusting faith amid insurmountable opposition, freeing us to rejoice in God even in desolation.

Zephaniah shows God’s grace in the Lord’s exultant singing over his recalcitrant yet beloved people.

Haggai shows God’s grace in promising a wayward people that the latter glory of God’s (temple-ing) presence with them will far surpass its former glory.

Zechariah shows God’s grace in the divine pledge to open up a fountain for God’s people to ‘cleanse them from sin and uncleanness’ (13:1).

Malachi shows God’s grace by declaring the Lord’s no-strings-attached love for his people.

Matthew shows God’s grace in fulfilling the Old Testament promises of a coming king. (5:17)

Mark shows God’s grace as this coming king suffers the fate of a common criminal to buy back sinners. (10:45)

Luke shows that God’s grace extends to all the people one would not expect: hookers, the poor, tax collectors, sinners, Gentiles (‘younger sons’). (19:10)

John shows God’s grace in becoming one of us, flesh and blood (1:14), and dying and rising again so that by believing we might have life in his name. (20:31)

Acts shows God’s grace flooding out to all the world–starting in Jerusalem, ending in Rome; starting with Peter, apostle to the Jews, ending with Paul, apostle to the Gentiles. (1:8)

Romans shows God’s grace in Christ to the ungodly (4:5) while they were still sinners (5:8) that washes over both Jew and Gentile.

1 Corinthians shows God’s grace in favoring what is lowly and foolish in the world. (1:27)

2 Corinthians shows God’s grace in channeling his power through weakness rather than strength. (12:9)

Galatians shows God’s grace in justifying both Jew and Gentile by Christ-directed faith rather than self-directed performance. (2:16)

Ephesians shows God’s grace in the divine resolution to unite us to his Son before time began. (1:4)

Philippians shows God’s grace in Christ’s humiliating death on an instrument of torture—for us. (2:8)

Colossians shows God’s grace in nailing to the cross the record of debt that stood against us. (2:14)

1 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in providing the hope-igniting guarantee that Christ will return again. (4:13)

2 Thessalonians shows God’s grace in choosing us before time, that we might withstand Christ’s greatest enemy. (2:13)

1 Timothy shows God’s grace in the radical mercy shown to ‘the chief of sinners.’ (1:15)

2 Timothy shows God’s grace to be that which began (1:9) and that which fuels (2:1) the Christian life.

Titus shows God’s grace in saving us by his own cleansing mercy when we were most mired in sinful passions. (3:5)

Philemon shows God’s grace in transcending socially hierarchical structures with the deeper bond of Christ-won Christian brotherhood. (v. 16)

Hebrews shows God’s grace in giving his Son to be both our sacrifice to atone for us once and for all as well as our high priest to intercede for us forever. (9:12)

James shows us God’s grace by giving to those who have been born again ‘of his own will’ (1:18) ‘wisdom from above’ for meaningful godly living. (3:17)

1 Peter shows God’s grace in securing for us an unfading, imperishable inheritance no matter what we suffer in this life. (1:4)

2 Peter shows God’s grace in guaranteeing the inevitability that one day all will be put right as the evil that has masqueraded as good will be unmasked at the coming Day of the Lord. (3:10)

1 John shows God’s grace in adopting us as his children. (3:1)

2 and 3 John show God’s grace in reminding specific individuals of ‘the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever.’ (2 Jn 2)

Jude shows God’s grace in the Christ who presents us blameless before God in a world rife with moral chaos. (v. 24)

Revelation shows God’s grace in preserving his people through cataclysmic suffering, a preservation founded on the shed blood of the lamb. (12:11)

Adapted from Dane Ortlund: http://dogmadoxa.blogspot.com/search?q=The+Grace+of+God+in+the+Bible September 25, 2010

About Dane Ortlund:

Dane Ortlund

Dane Ortlund serves as Bible Publishing Director at Crossway Books in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the author of A New Inner Relish: Christian Motivation in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards (Christian Focus, 2008) and Defiant Grace: The Surprising Message and Mission of Jesus (Evangelical, 2011). He is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary (M.Div., Th.M.) and Wheaton College (B.A., Ph.D.). Dane is married to his college sweetheart, Stacey, and they have three boys. He blogs at Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology.

 

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