Wednesday, November 27, 2013


MINDING THE HEART: The Way of Spiritual Transformation
Robert L Saucy
(Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, 2013).

Robert Saucy is an excellent Bible scholar and theologian. He is also a very good writer who has produced an excellent study on the heart and the transformation of the believers’ life. While the book is founded upon and contains strong theology, yet it is extremely practical and understandable.

He opens with the need of moving beyond salvation to abundant living. The purpose of salvation is realized in growth—not simply intellectual growth, but spiritual growth in exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. The heart is our true identity, our inner person. It is our essence. This is an illuminating study of the idea of the heart in Scripture. Understanding the heart helps us to see the need and desire for transformation. He takes on the journey from the natural heart of man to the sanctified or transformed heart of the believer. In doing so he does two things I appreciate: First, he warns us that we still have to deal with the old, twisted, prideful heart. “The remnants of the old disordered love of self remain.” He shows the heart is where our intellectual, emotional, and volitional activities reside. Growth or change of heart entails the relationship and cooperation with Divine and human activity. Transformation of the heart begins and centers upon our relationship with God. He gives important principles of this:  That our activity and God’s work are present in all spiritual growth. And that our activity in transformation is totally dependent on God’s work. “God works in us to will and do His good pleasure, but we must actually will and do His good pleasure in working out our salvation (Phil. 2:12-13).”

Second, he gives us what can be identified as the keys for transformation of the heart and spends time explaining each one:
  1. We must renew the mind (Rom. 12:2).
  2. Meditation on the Truth of God’s Word.
  3. The necessity of Community. He goes on to describe how this works.
He ends by reminding us that transformation is hard. Yet, we “find rest for our souls even when the way is hard.”  

This is one of the best books on the Christian life that I have read in recent years. The study is “heart-warming,” stimulating, and profitable. This is aided by sidebars on different issues of the heart, and end of chapter questions, designed to make one think. Worthwhile no matter where you are in your Christian life.

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

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Study of Philippians 2:5-11 (Part 3)


 Philippians 2:9-11 

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him…” (Phil. 2:9). Humility brings exaltation. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” declares 1 Peter 5:6. Exaltation after humiliation is a common theme in Scripture (cf. Matthew 23:12).

Jesus was exalted because of His submission to the Father by self-humiliation in becoming man, obedient to the point of death. There is no question that exaltation was the fruit of His humility. “For this reason” is the Greek preposition dia, and used here in the sense of a result of an action. It connects the preceding humiliation with the resulting action of exaltation marking a change of direction and action. Now there is a shift to God the Father who takes the initiative and become the source of the action, and Christ becomes the recipient. It centers upon what “God” did. It also speaks of a consequence which is a natural outcome of Jesus’ humility. The verb “exalted” is the Greek word, hyperphroneo, and is found only here in Scripture. The word is an indicative aorist in the Greek, which is a mood of certainty and an aorist which happened in the point of time or is a historical fact. It is a compound word meaning to super exalt, exalt above, or exalt supremely. The evidence of exaltation is threefold: (1) The resurrection of Christ. (2) The ascension into heaven. (3) Being seated at the right hand of God. Christ was exalted in fulfillment of God’s word: “Behold, my servant shall prosper, He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted” (Isaiah 52:13). This act of exaltation is a response of vindication and approval.[1] Hawthorne notes that this “this is not described in stages as was his humiliation-descent. Rather,…God [is] in one dramatic act lifting Christ from the depths to the heights.”[2] It is a one time act with continual results.
How God exalted Jesus: He “bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9b). The word “bestowed” is the word charizomai, means “to give or bestow a thing willingly.”[3] The root word is grace. Therefore, this is an act of grace—not merit. He was graciously given “the name which is above every name.” Names in Scripture have special significance. A name describes an essence or person.  Pentecost clarifies: “Name is used here in its Old Testament sense where the name represents the total person. It bespeaks the office, the rank, and the dignity attached to the person because of his position.”[4]  It is a name “which is above every name.” It points to Christ being given the highest honor and supreme power. His name is given to distinguish His name from all others, and given a title that outranks all other titles.
So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow…” (Phil 2:10). This declares the purpose of Jesus’ exaltation. “So that” is a conjunction of purpose and indicates the result or goal. The purpose and goal is clearly universal adoration to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is interesting that Paul uses just the earthly name—Jesus. While Paul usually joins the earthly name of Jesus with a title, such as Lord or Christ; he does not always do so (cf. 1 Cor 12:3; 2 Cor. 4:1, 1 Thess. 4:14).  Paul is careful to tie the earthly name or Jesus’ humanity with the exalted position. O'Brien notes that the name Jesus, “In such a context… serves to emphasize the reality of His humanity: it is the real human being”[5] who is spoken of by Paul. For Paul, He is the man Christ Jesus, now exalted and at the right hand of God.

Notice also that this exaltation is a sign of triumph.  This is denoted in the phrases, “every knee will bow” (Phil. 2:10) and “every tongue will confess” (Phil. 2:11). He triumphs over his enemies, and they will acknowledge Him as Lord by an act of reverence and submission. Robertson notes this will be: “Not perfunctory genuflections, whenever the name of Jesus is mentioned, but universal acknowledgment of the majesty and power of Jesus who carries his human name and nature to heaven.”[6] This will be universal acknowledgement. The word “every” used twice in the text is connected and further defined as “those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Revelation 5:13 declares: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ ” The clear implication is that there will be no exceptions. All the living, dead, and angelic creatures, will acknowledge Jesus as Lord. The emphasis is on the universality of the authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ. However, we must not take it that all will be saved by this act. In warfare of the time, when Rome defeated their enemies, many were brought before Caesar and made to confess the power, authority, and superiority of their captors, but this did not pardon or make them citizens.[7]  It is the doctrine of Scripture that Christ in dying for men, and because He did die for them, has won for Himself eternal renown” observes Eadie.[8]

The timing of this is not specifically indicated in our text. Various groups will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord at different times in three key judgments: First, the church will do so at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:11-15). Second, those living on the earth and Old Testament saints resurrected at the first resurrection of prophecy will be judged (Rev. 19:11-21). Third, at the end of the Millennium in the Great White Throne judgment is when everyone on the earth and all resurrected unbelievers will bow the knee to Jesus Christ (Rev. 20:7-15).

[1]  O’Brien, PHILIPPIANS, 234.
[2]  Hawthorne, WBC: PHILIPPIANS, 91.
[3]  Zodhiates, WORD STUDY DICTIONARY: NT, 1468.
[4]  Pentecost, THE JOY OF LIVING, 77.
[5]  O’Brien, NIGTC: PHILIPPIANS, 242.
[6]  A.T. Robertson, WORD PICTURES, IV, 446.
[7]  Baker, Charles, UNDERSTANDING THE BODY OF CHRIST, 85-86.
[8]  Eadie, John, THE EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS,  electronic media, Google Books.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Brief Study of the GOLDEN RULE

The Golden Rule brings “to a climax the entire central core of the sermon on the mount.[1] It is also the logical conclusion[2] of the disciples’ perspective and action toward the world. “Therefore” (oun) is a conjunction of inference or conclusion. Lenski says its consequence is that “instead of judging others falsely, we shall do to them what we would that they should do to us.[3] What is this conclusion? “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (7:12 NKJV). It speaks to our social responsibility as the righteous, not the means of salvation. It is the summation of the Law, as well as Biblical ethics. This is the very heart of the Law (Lev. 19:18), which underlies the ethical demands of the Law and the prophets.[4] Baker notes, “Scripture is clear that no flesh will ever be justified by keeping the Law. The law demanded that you do unto others what you would have them do unto you.[5] In essence it is a statement concerning the second greatest commandment stated by Jesus in Matthew 22:37: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Jesus’ teaching it is axiomatic that the second will never be obeyed with the first: we will never love our neighbors in the way we would like to be loved until we love God with hearth and soul and mind” observes Carson.[6]
The Golden Rule summarizes not only the teaching of Jesus, but the Law and the Prophets as well. Today, in Christ the requirements of the Law are fulfilled in the believer (Rom. 8:2-4). Like the Law, the Golden Rule is good, the practice of which is interdispensational. It’s only fault is our sinfulness (Rom. 7:12-18).  Paul endorses this ethical demand as the essence of grace as well (Gal. 5:14; cf. Rom. 13:8-10). How we want to be treated should be the standard of conduct toward others.

[1]  Davis and Allison, MATTHEW, 1:685.
[2] Guelich, SERMON ON THE MOUNT, 361.
[3]  Lenski, MATTHEW, 295.
[4]  France, TNCNT: MATTHEW, 283.            
[5]  Baker, GOSPELS, 93.
[6]  Carson, SERMON, 113.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thoughts on the so-called Lord's Prayer: Matthew 6

Jesus gives a sample prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). This is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer;” however, it is not really an accurate description. As English points out, “This is not the Lord’s Prayer; He never offered this prayer. He could not, for He had no sins to be forgiven.”[1] The true “Lord’s Prayer” is found in John 17:1-26, for it is a prayer Jesus prayed for His own. Here in Matthew is the Model or Disciples’ Prayer. Jesus gives it as a model of how to pray—neither too long and ostentatious, nor unnecessarily repetitious. One of the sad things is that some have turned it into a repetitious prayer, repeating it in every service. It was never meant to be. He says, “In this manner, therefore, pray.” The word translated “in this manner” is the Greek word houtos, meaning “like this,” not “pray this prayer.” It clearly denotes that this is a model or guide, rather than a set prayer to be repeated.[2] There are three reasons we should not make this a repetitious prayer:
  • The language does not support it. He does not tell them to prayer this prayer.
  • The context does not support it, for it is in the context against repetition as the Gentiles do (Matthew 6:7)
  • It violates the principle of progressive revelation. Clearly Jesus Himself gave new and additional instruction about prayer in John 16:23, 24 indicating that prayer is to be asked in His name. There is no such request in this prayer.

The prayer is “neither personal nor liturgical,”[3] however it is dispensational in its nature. There are six requests in this prayer; all of them have a link with the promised earthly kingdom. Three are appeals for the Kingdom to come; the last three requests are to be given in the light of the coming Kingdom. While many scholars do not use the word dispensational, they do seem to uphold the eschatological (end-time) theme of the prayer. Davies and Allison (non-dispensationalists) observe, “…the eschatological interpretation gives the text a pleasing thematic unity.”[4]

[1]  E. Schuyler English, STUDIES IN THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW,  (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1938), 53.
[2]  C.R. Stam asks two valid questions in this regard.  “Our Lord first uttered this prayer to His disciples, but have you ever read of their repeating it?  If He meant it to be repeated, should we not have at least one example in Scripture of their having done so?”, SERMON ON THE MOUNT, 87.
[3]  Guelich, SERMON ON THE MOUNT 284.
[4]  Davies and Allison, MATTHEW, 1:594.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Chronologically, we can lay out Paul’s letters as follows:
  • Galatians (48-49)
  • 1 Thessalonians (50)
  • 2 Thessalonians (50)
  • 1 Corinthians (54)
  • 2 Corinthians (55)
  • Romans (56-57)
  • Ephesians (60)
  • Colossians (60)
  • Philemon (60)
  • Philippians (61)
  • 1 Timothy (63)
  • Titus (63)
  • 2 Timothy (64)