Sunday, December 21, 2014



One of the books that influenced me the most is J.I. Packer’s KNOWING GOD. I would like to share with you a few words from his work. As it is Christmas, we are not to simply celebrate a birth of a baby, but the incarnation of God.

“The baby born at Bethlehem was God made man.

The Word had become flesh: a real human baby. He had not ceased to be God; He was no less God ten than before; be He had begun to be man…

The mystery of the incarnation is unfathomable. We cannot explain it; we can only formulate it…

The New Testament does not encourage us to puzzle our heads over the physical and psychological problems that it raises, but to worship God for the love that was shown in it….

The key text in the New Testament for interpreting the incarnation is not, therefore, the bare statement in John 1:14, ‘the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us’, but rather the more comprehensive statement of 2 Corinthians 8:9, ‘ye know that grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.’ Here is stated, not only the fact of incarnation only, but also its meaning; the taking of manhood by the Son is set before us in a which shows us how we should set it before ourselves and ever view it—not simply as a marvel of nature, but rather as a wonder of grace.”


Source: J.I. Packer, KNOWING GOD, [IVP, Downers Grove IL, 1973], 50-51.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sermon in a Nutshell #5

Marks of Spiritual Immaturity
Hebrews 5

·        Dullness toward the Word 5:11
·        Inability to Share the Word 5:12a
·        You are on a “baby food” Diet 5:12b-13
·        Being unskillful in the Word 5:14

Friday, December 12, 2014


Mark 8:27-31

The hardest photo to take is an action shoot, especially if one wants to get the climax of the action. It takes impeccable timing, as well as focus. It also takes anticipation and planning. Mark captures the climax of the turning point in the ministry of Christ in his Gospel. The turning point is the confession of Peter.

This snapshot entails:
  • A blurry background. It was taken at Caesarea Philippi. This was outside Galilee and had an amazing history. It was a center for the worship of false gods—from Baal, different Greek gods, to the Caesar cult. It is in this atmosphere that Jesus asks his important question—Who am I? It vividly presents the contrast between the false and the real.
  • The disciples present the popular view of the Jews concerning Jesus. Like people today they had many opinions—John the Baptist; Elijah; or one of the prophets. Today the answer might range from legend; a great miracle worker; or simply a fake.
  • Personal confrontation—Who do YOU say I am? This question is not asked to the population, but to his own disciples.  It is a test question for his own to answer. Jesus will always confront his own disciples with that question. Each of us as individuals must answer that for ourselves. Peter climbed to the heights of revelation and inspiration (Matt. 16:7). He declares you are the Messiah (Christ—the anointed one).  Peter passed the test with a perfect score. The confession is the turning point in ministry. Up to this point, his ministry centered upon revealing who He was. Now with the climax of Peter’s confession, the ministry of Jesus turned to revealing His purpose—His suffering, death, and resurrection. The message of His person now turns to His passion (Mark 8:31). Up to this point Jesus had been silent about His suffering, death, and resurrection. Now for the first time He clearly alludes to his death. He declares that this was necessary—“He must” suffer. It speaks of a divine necessity.

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed thro’
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.[1]

[1]  Jerry Vines, EXPLORING THE GOSPELS: MARK, Loizeaux, Neptune, NJ, 165.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review – Exploring Christian Theology Volume 1

EXPLORING CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY Volume 1, Bethany House, Minneapolis, 2014. by Nathan D. Holsteen, Michael J. Svigel.

This is not your normal Theology book. It is more of a primer. A primer is a small book providing an introductory book on a subject; a short informative piece of writing. This is a reader friendly and easily understandable work. It is ideal for a beginning student or a layman who wants to gain a basic understanding of Christian Theology. It would be an ideal teaching text, or guide for personal Bible study. This volume centers upon three subjects: Revelation, Scripture, and the Triune God. It presents these truths in a concise relevant matter that is completely evangelical. The essence of Christian history is brief, but gives one a good sense of the history of the doctrine.

The book is divided into sections that are the same in each heading. This includes a survey of the subject; passages to master; the subject in retrospect giving the history of the subject; facts of the subject; dangers to avoid in the subject; principles to put into practice; quotes from past voices; and recommendations for your library on the subject. There are four features of this book I like. First, in addition to the subjects are a number of charts that are helpful. Second, are the practical aspects of the book, including helpful principles, and the suggestions for your library. I especially like that the suggestion are given descriptions and a general rating (beginner, intermediate, or advanced). Third, it has a glossary of terms that will help clear up terms that one might not clearly understand. Fourth, scattered throughout are memory verses on the subject.

Overall, I highly recommend this primer. It is an enjoyable, practical, and helpful book that should be on the self of every Pastor and Bible student. It is designed to help you to go deeper into the subject. It is a solid, understandable, faithful work. It will not disappoint you.
(I received a copy of this book free from the publisher Bethany House in exchange for my review. I was not required to give a positive review.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Slavery in New Testament Times.[1]

When we think of slavery most of us think of it in light of slavery in the south before the Civil War. Slavery in the Roman Empire was much different. Comparing the two is like comparing night and day. While slavery in the south exemplified all the abuses of the institution that was not the case generally in the first century. Slaves were a large population in the Empire, making up about one-third of the population (higher in some places). Slaves were more like household servants in Victorian Britain than slaves in the Antebellum Southern states of America.[2] In the Roman Empire slavery had the following characteristics:
·        It was not a manner of race or racism. Most slaves were conquered people of different races. Race was not a determining factor. The main source of slaves was warfare and birth—being born to a slave meant you were one as well—but it also included  slave trading, kidnapping, and piracy.
·        It was not a manner of poverty. Slaves were not necessarily poor. Slaves could own propriety and accumulate wealth, but could not become citizens unless freed. This process was that of manumission (act of liberating a slave) which was a legal process, not a political one (such as emancipation). Manumission under Rome, contrary to common belief, was not automatic after so long a time (6 years). While manumission did happen, the vast majority of slaves were never freed. To the Roman’s manumission was a reward, not a standard to be exercised.
·        It was not a manner of the lack of education. Many were well educated and were members of the professions (Doctors, lawyers, educators, architects, artists, etc). Slave holders saw it as an honor to educate their slaves. Educated slaves were prized. Respect for their slaves seems to be somewhat of a common element among the Romans.
·        They were not segregated from freeborn members of society, and enjoyed social mobility. Some even held power, not only over other slaves, but over freeborns as well. Imperial slaves were considered the most powerful. The living quarters of the slaves were with freemen.
·        All the evils of slavery were present as well—whipping, forced labor, a denial of dignity, etc. Under no circumstance is slavery a desired condition.
·        Roman law considered slavery to be against nature, this did not mean that it was .considered morally wrong; the jurists clearly presumed slavery to be legitimate, proper, and morally right.”[3] The treatment of slaves was a moral issue, but not the fact of slavery itself.[4]

[1]  See, J.A. Harrill, “Slavery,” (Craig A. Evans & Stanley E. Porter, Editors), DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT BACKGROUND, [Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2000], 01124-1127.
[2]  James D.G. Dunn, NIGTC: THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS AND TO PHILEMON, [Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1996], 252, 302.
[3]  Harrill, “Slavery,” 1124.