Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sermon in a Nutshell

Text:  Colossians 1:14-18

He is the.....
Redeemer of Sinners 1:14
Image of the Invisible  1:15
Creator of all things 1:16
Head of the Church 1:18

Friday, September 20, 2013

Study of Philippians 2:5-11 (Part 1)

Christ: Humility and Exaltation Exemplified 2:5-11

Humility leads to Exaltation. There is no greater example of that than Jesus Christ. The passage before us is the premier Christological passage in the New Testament. This is made of two sentences, one is short (only verse 5), and one long sentence (verses 6-11). O’Brien writes that this “is the most important section of the letter to the Philippians and provides a marvelous description of Christ’s self-humbling in his incarnation and death, together with his subsequent exaltation by God to the place of highest honor.”[1] While many takes this as a hymn that Paul incorporated into his text,[2] it is not necessarily so, since Paul is capable of composing in a highly poetic style (cf. 1 Corinthians 13).[3]  It is used as an example of true humility and reveals the mind of Christ.

Paul’s Exhortation 2:5

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ” (Phil. 2:5). To try to disconnect this passage from what has been said in Philippians 2:1-4 as some have argued (Kasemann, Martin), is impossible.  This is a transitional verse, drawing a conclusion of verses 1-4, and at the same time introducing the subject of the humility of Christ.[4]  There is a connective that is not translated in some versions, it is the connective gar (for, indeed). This connects the two sections (2:1-4 with 2:5-9) together. Thus it could be translated “For let this mind be in you.” The word mind or attitude is the verb phroneistho (a present imperative) or phroneite (second person plural) depending on the manuscript. Both words have the meaning a state of mind, fixed attitude toward something, or a fixed way of thinking. Gromacki notes that the “concept behind the verb is that of a mind fixed on a specific purpose, not that of a casual thought.”[5] The difference is the way it should be translated. If it is a present imperative it adds the idea of continually having this mind to the command. However, most accept it as a second person plural, meaning it is referring to the whole group, and could be translated “you all.” The word “this” (touto) refers back to the exhortation in 2:1-4, connecting it with the same verb of like-minded or of one mind in verse 2.
The second half of this exhortation begins with the relative clause—“which was also in Christ Jesus.” This links the exhortation with what follows in the text, as well as, identifying the type of mind we are to have. The phrase designates the type of mind we are to have. It is that attitude or state of mind which Christ had. It makes Christ’s mind the example of the mind which we are to have. The rest of the passage describes that mind. It connects the way we are to think with how Christ thought. He is the supreme example. Calvin says this in this verse, the two clauses, first, “persuades us to imitate Christ;” and second to put us on “the road by which we attain true glory.”[6]

Jesus’ Humility of Mind 2:6-8

The mind of Christ is a humble mind. His humility was displayed in every aspect of His being. It is the highest example of setting aside one’s self for the interests of others. In giving this example, Paul gives the most comprehensive Christological truth found anywhere in Scripture. It is almost universally accepted that this is a hymn, but not all.[7] It started with his preexistence, continued in his incarnation, and displayed by his obedience, climaxing in exaltation. The mind or attitude of Christ involved three aspects:

The Attitude of Selflessness 2:6

This takes us back before the incarnation to the preexistence of Christ—“who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6). The first part of the phrase speaks of His eternal being and deity. There are two key words in the first phrase:
First, is the word existed (hyparcho) means to be, exist, or subsist. The word denotes prior existence. In the Greek it is not past tense (as translated in English), but is in the present tense indicating a continual condition. “The thought is that Christ always has been in the form of God with the implication that He still is.”[8] He is, was, and ever will be. He is eternal, even though the phrase points backward to a time before His incarnation. 
Second, is the word form (morphe) and has the basic meaning of shape or form. It is found only 3 times in Scripture (Mark 16:12, Phil. 2:6, 7). There is much debate as to the  force of the word.[9] The precise nuance is unclear. It is a difficult word to grasp. Lightfoot stresses the classical usage that it speaks of the essential attributes or the specific character of the person.[10]  Others try to equate it with the word “image” (eikon),[11] which I think is weak in that image is applied in creation of man, but man is never spoken of has having the form of God. Second, Christ took on more than an image when he took on the “form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). However we take the word form it must equate with the meaning in verse 7, “form of a servant.”   Others take it as visible appearance.[12] This may have some merit, for the word form in Mark 16:12 contains the idea of an appearance. However, this seems somewhat limiting here in Philippians 2, for the change from the “form of God” to the “form of a servant” entails much more than physical appearance[13] Another attractive view is that the word form is equal to the word glory.[14] This seems unlikely, because it is difficult to equate this with a servant (form of a servant). Nature is more equivalent to the Greek than the idea of glory. It seems best not to over complicate or over think the word. It should be understood as the nature of the object. I agree with Tyler who writes:
Christ was in the "form," or better, the "nature" of God. There are two Greek words for "form," and both are used in our passage. One word denotes an essential form of something. The other, found in verses 6-7, means "nature" or "likeness." Thus, Christ had the "nature" or "likeness" of God.[15]
Likewise, Muller writes:
By the “form of God” is meant neither the abstract essence nor being of God, not merely the external form or appearance of God, but His divine nature, which is inseparable from His person and in which the Divine Being realizes Himself in His immanent, inherent, divine glory and godly attributes.”[16]
The second part of the phrase—“did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped”—speaks of His attitude or mind-set. I am struck immediately with this mind-set in comparison to that of Lucifer. Lucifer’s mind-set was that of selfishness and pride. He wanted not only to be equal with God, but to replace God and be God. He acted to grasp deity. This is reflected in the “I will’s” of Isaiah 14:12-14. On the other hand, Christ’s mind-set was that of selflessness. He “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Because of their attitudes one would become the vanquished; the other will be the victor.
A more literal reading of the Greek, could translate this verse: “Esteemed it not to be robbery; the being equal with God” (author’s translation). There are three things to be brought out by this phrase:
(1) This emphasizes and connects the mind-set of Christ with how we are to think “do not merely look out for your own personal interest” (2:4).  The word “esteem” is hegesato denotes to think, to lead the way in thinking, consider, to esteem, or to regard. It points to a conscious decision to not be selfish and serve.
(2) It also connects the “form of God” with being “equal with God.” In the Greek the phrase the definite article is found and implies connection, for it points back to something already mentioned.[17] The “form of God” equates with being “equal with God.”
(3) The word translated “robbery” or “grasped” is an interesting word. The Greek word harpagmon has an active and a passive meaning. Gromacki summarizes the differences well:
As active, it would refer to the act of seizing or grasping, where the passive would emphasize the result of grasping. The active would imply that He wanted to become equal with God, but the passive looks at the equality as a prize already held. In this context, the passive is the theological preference.[18]
This passive view is confirmed by the rest of Scripture. John makes clear His equality with God (John 1:1; John 5:18; John 10:30, 33). Tyler points out that, “Here, a divine status is something Christ held, but refused to use in an exploiting manner.”[19] His thinking is to be our thinking. He is an example of not merely looking out for ones own personal interest. Thus, the mind of Christ is one that does not take advantage by self-exploitation, but a selfless attitude or mind-set.
to be continued 

[1]  O’Brien, PHILIPPIANS, 186-187.
[2]  See Ralph P. Martin, CARMEN CHRISTI, Revised, 1967
[3]  Kent, EBC: PHILIPPIANS, 122.
[4]  Ibid, 203.
[5]  Gromacki, STAND UNITED IN JOY, 91.
[6]  Calvin, PHILIPPIANS, 246.
[7]  For the view that it is Pauline exalted prose, see Gordon Fee, “Philippians 2:5-11: Hymn or Exalted Pauline Prose?” BULLETIN FOR BIBLICAL RESEARCH 2, 1992, 29-46.
[8]  John F. Walvoord, JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, 138.
[9]  For a survey and analysis of the views, see Dennis W. Jowers, ‘The meaning of Morphe in Philippians 2:6-7,” JOURNAL OF THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 49/4, December 2008, 739-66.
[10]  J.B. Lightfoot, ST. PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS, 127-33.
[11]  Martin, 115-116.
[12]  Johannes Behem, “morqn,” (Kittle) TDNT, 4:751. John Eadie,  PHILIPPIANS, (Electronic media), n.p. His comments on Philippians 2:6.
[13]  “The term did not refer to external appearance alone; it regularly pointed to something more substantial.” O’Brien, 207.
[14]  Ibid, 210.
[15]  Ron Tyler, “Philippians 2:5-11 and the Mind of Christ,” LEAVN 5.3, 1997, 25.
[16]  Muller, 78-79.
[17]  Hawthorne, WBC:PHILIPPIANS, 84.
[18]  Gromacki, 94.
[19]  Tyler, 25.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Sharing this that I received this by e-mail from Charles Woodruff:

We know that the world, the flesh and the devil are our enemies. We may have our worst
problems with the flesh, though that very flesh may lead us to say “the devil made me do it”. The
flesh brings the believer these problems:
1. Indifference= spiritual coldness.
2. Ingratitude= unthankful to God.
3. Inconsistency= unstable in all our ways.
4. Inactivity= Not interested in the things of God.
5. Indecency= Immorality, sin, rebellion.
The remedy can be found in Psalm 3:3, 4 (cw)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Justification in Romans

Sermon in a nutshell
 Justification in Romans

GOD – The Source of Justification (Romans 8:33)
GRACE – The Principle of Justification (Romans 3:24)
BLOOD – The Means of Justification (Romans 5:9)
FAITH – The Way of Justification (Romans 5:1)


One Year to Better Preaching: Fifty-two Exercises to Hone Your Skills
© 2013 by Daniel Overdorf, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 49501.
Who does not want to improve their preaching? Daniel Overdorf has delivered a helpful book on doing just that. I am amazed when talking to Pastors how many once they leave Bible College or Seminary do very little to expand their preaching ability. I spent time over the years reading a number of books on preaching. However, many of them lack practical suggestions on how to improve by exercises one could do. This is the value of this book. It gives you a year’s worth of practical exercises to help you improve your presentation, sharpen your skills, and to become a better preacher.

He addresses eight categories that one should try in improve and gives practical exercises to do so. This includes: Prayer and Preaching; Bible Interpretation; Understanding listeners;  Sermon Construction; Illustration and Application; Word Crafting; The Preaching Event; Sermon Evaluation.

Of the 52 suggestions, they are not coming out of simply an academic exercise, but each has been tried in real life churches by real life preachers. Each section has testimonials at the end by Pastors who have tried the exercise and how it worked for them. This is not to say that every suggestion will work for a certain preacher, but it does indicate these exercises are worth a try. It does not mean that one should try a different exercise every week. I would expect a preacher to be subjective and try exercise over a month or so, evaluate if it was worthwhile, and then go on to another. However, you decide to do it, and even if a specific exercise does not work for you, over time this book will help you improve your skills. Much in this book is not new or unknown, but it does stimulate to look at the skills in a practical way in order to improve them. I wish this book came out 40 years ago when I was first starting out as a preacher. Even if you are doing what is in this book, it will make you think about what you are doing and how you are doing it. I saw some things in these exercises that I already did, but never gave them much thought. It did make me think about those things. Preacher, get this book!  Use it. You will be better in preaching of the Word. 

[Thanks to Kregel Publishing for providing a free copy of this book for my honest review.]

Thursday, September 5, 2013


1. The starting point of the study of prophecy is history. The historical circumstances of the time and context
determine if the prophecy is didactic or predictive. All prophecy begins in a historical context. On should determine the historical background of the prophet and his writings. For example to understand Obadiah one must understand the history of Edom. Ramm observes: “that although history is necessary to understand the prophet, and that some historical event occasioned the giving of the prophecy, prophecy is not to be limited to purely historical considerations.”[1]

There is one main error in regard to the relation of prophecy and history. Some say prophecy is a way to write history after the fact. In other words the author writes history as prophecy. This is the liberal or naturalistic view. This is a great error.  In fact if that were true, prophecy would contain more historical details than it actually contains. Prophecy never gives full historical details of an event or prophecy.

2. Determine if the prophecy is predictive or didactic; distinguish between forth-telling and foretelling. The word prophecy comes from two Greek words meaning “to speak for or before.” Forth-telling is exhortation, reproof, correction or instruction. The major job of the prophet was to tell forth the truth of God. It spoke to the times. Foretelling is prediction of future events, either immediate or distant. Tan says “that every fourth verse in the Scripture was predictive when written.[2]

3. If predictive, then determine the fulfilled, unfulfilled, unconditional or conditional elements of the prophecy. Many prophecies are fulfilled either in the New Testament and the Old Testament. If mentioned in the New Testament as fulfilled, you must compare it with the Old Testament passage to see how the New Testament uses the Old Testament passage.

New Testament used the Old Testament in 4 ways:
  • Literally. Example the Virgin Birth. Matthew 1:23.
  • To prove a point or doctrine. John 6:45; Matthew 22:32.
  • To explain a point. Hebrews 12:20
  • To illustrate New Testament truth. Romans 10:6-8, 18.

If fulfilled in history, let history interpret the passage. Example: Daniel 11.

If it is conditional, it may or may not be fulfilled. Zephaniah 2:1-3.

If fulfilled, the problem is difficult. One should be guided by how the passage is fulfilled. Determine the theme that is treated elsewhere and try to get guidance from all the passages regarding it. Example: Day of the Lord.

4. Determine what elements of the prophecy are local. Example: 2 Samuel 7:12-17.

5. Forget about chapter and verse division and look at the whole context. Example: Malachi 2:27 belongs to 3:1. Chapter and verse divisions are somewhat arbitrary and can be misleading. They are not inspired, nor original in the text. Do not let these divisions limit your understanding.

6. Rightly divide the Word (2 Timothy 2:15). This will help you correctly apply the prophecy. Not all prophecy is to you or for you. As Miles Coverdale wrote so long ago: “It shall greatly help ye to understand the Scriptures if thou mark not only what is spoken or written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goeth before and what followeth after. ”

[1]  Ramm, Bernard, PROTESTANT BIBLICAL INTEPRETATION, W.A.. Wilde Co, Boston, 1956, 229-230,
[2]  Tan, Paul Lee, THE INTRPRETATION OF PROPHECY, BMH Books, Winona Lake, IN, 1974, 25.