Archive for the 'Study' Category

9 Minutes With God – Learn Who Jesus Really Is

This is a repost. I made a few slight grammar and punctuation changes with the PDF document, and added an experimental Epub file.

When I first became a Christian, after or while reading through the book of John, I used the little pamphlet put out by The Navigators (NavPress) called 7 Minutes With God. This got me started on having a “quiet time” or what I now call devotional time or spiritual disciplines (what a scary word) which has stayed with me for over 25 years now.

While looking for this online, I found some adaptations and decided to write my own. If you like it, I would be thrilled if you use it for yourself or to give to others.

Nine Minutes With God (PDF File)

Nine Minutes With God (Epub File)

If you’re wondering how to start, or need to restart with some structure, this may help.

If you have any suggestions for ways to improve it, please let me know. This is meant to be printed and I purposely used a rather large typeface for the older folks.

Photo of a Bible

Colossians Study Material

Embarking on my long term study of Colossians, I’ve been collecting some material in Evernote. These are some online resources that I’ve come across. Please let me know if you have any others to add.

  • – Exposition by N. Byfield
  • Bruce’s Commentary online

Dead Men’s Brains

In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have laboured before you in the field of exposition. If you are of that opinion, pray remain so, for you are not worth the trouble of conversion, and like a little coterie who think with you, would resent the attempt as an insult to your infallibility.

–Charles Spurgeon

Many feel that it’s ‘just the Holy Spirit and me’. Spurgeon would obviously disagree.

That’s just a quote from the document I mention below. What I really want to say is that, along with many of you, the main reason I keep using e-Sword Bible software even though I have the much more robust Bibleworks (v.8 reviewed here), is because of the commentaries freely available and easy to use within the program. There are Calvin, Henry, Clark, and Gill among others available.

Why use old commentaries?

  1. Free
  2. As part of a program like e-Sword, it’s easy to look up what many different commentators say, linked to each verse or section
  3. If you can’t afford commentaries, or at least not as many as you’d like, these gifted men along with a couple of study Bibles can go a long way
  4. As Charles Spurgeon says, “The temptations of our times lie rather in empty pretensions to novelty of sentiment, than in a slavish following of accepted guides. A respectable acquaintance with the opinions of the giants of the past, might have saved many an erratic thinker from wild interpretations and outrageous inferences.”

I found this nice document called Commenting and Commentaries by Spurgeon. He writes short biographies on many of the commentators that you can find available for e-Sword (some of which are found outside the e-Sword site–like Calvin–but they are legal). He then writes about how to use study aides, especially commentaries. I would think that budding preachers and all Bible studiers would benefit.

By the way, the subject line of this post was found in the document by Spurgeon.

Spurgeon Portriat

Repost: Important Revelations (2 of 2)

The first repost was about murmuring. One of the other very important things God has shown me within a year is that I’m not my own.

I intended to go through the New City Catechism because I had never gone through one before and feel I really missed out by not going through this as a kid, as some had the opportunity to do. But the first week was so important to me, I never got past that. I memorized the question and answer, as they suggest, and meditated on the Scripture provided. With these there are added bonuses of quotes from theologians throughout history and a short video by a contemporary one. (It would be rather difficult to make one using a dead theologian, but that would be pretty cool–if they could be brought to life in this world that is.) I meditated on this for weeks, and still think about it regularly, even a year later.

As with the first repost, I know that when God speaks to us or teaches us something, we can’t expect it to have the same impact on others, because God may be doing something differently with them. But if this is something you’re interested in, I would encourage you to at least just do the first week, and then see if you’d like to go on.

I Am Not My Own

Question 1 of the New City Catechism is worth it even if I don’t go through the rest of it. It starts out with a bang. Thinking about it this whole last week has been very good for me.

Q1: What is our only hope in life and death?

A: That we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.

I know I belong to God but often forget that I’m not my own. That’s the tough part for me.

Recently I’ve been having a hard time dealing with my long standing chronic conditions. I’ve been having a hard time dealing with living like this, and that this is where God has me.

As I’ve written before, one of my main spiritual gauges is A.W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. This little book is so challenging, I had to admit I couldn’t quite fully ‘get with the program’ the first time I read it. But when I read it again years later, I was so broken and low, I was willing to give it all up, which is often what it takes for us to surrender to God to that degree.

But as time goes on, I want a little more control, I want to own more, feel like I shouldn’t have to have it this bad, etc. It creeps up, being almost unnoticeable. It comes down to knowing that I’m not my own and God has planned everything for good (Gen 50:20). Realizing this through the Holy Spirit’s conviction is the first step.

Whether we are well or broken, we are not our own, which isn’t something we read and hear much of these days. Maybe that’s why Q1 is where it is in the catechism. Why not? See Calvin’s quote for that day (c:).

For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:7–8 Keller (?)

You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3 GW

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:19

The LORD said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
Exodus 4:11 NIV

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”
John 9:3 NLT

Lamentations 3:37-38 Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?
Lamentations 3:37-38 NIV

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16 NIV

“The cross does not give us a minor shift or two with regard to a few of our ethical and moral and religious values. The cross radically disrupts the very center and citadel of your life from self to Christ. And if the cross has not done that, you’re not a Christian!”

–Albert Martin, Sermon: Warning to Professing Christians

The Pursuit of God by Tozer

New City Catechism – Introduction

What shall we do to love God?

Question. What shall we do to love God?
[short] Answer: Study God.
[long] Answer: Did we study Him more, we should love Him more. Take a view of His superlative excellencies, His holiness, His incomprehensible goodness. The angels know God better than we, and clearly behold the splendour of His majesty; therefore they are so deeply enamoured with Him. Labour for an interest in God. “O God, thou art my God” (Psalm 63.1). That pronoun “my”, is a sweet loadstone to love; a man loves that which is his own. The more we believe, the more we love: faith is the root, and love is the flower that grows upon it. “Faith which worketh by love” (Gal. 5.6). Make it your earnest request to God, that He will give you a heart to love Him. This is an acceptable request, surely God will not deny it. When king Solomon asked wisdom of God, “Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart” (1 Kings 3.9), “the speech pleased the Lord” (verse 10). So when you cry to God, “Lord, give me a heart to love Thee. It is my grief, I can love Thee no more. Oh, kindle this fire from heaven upon the altar of my heart!” surely this prayer pleases the Lord, and He will pour of His Spirit upon you, whose golden oil shall make the lamp of your love burn bright.
–Thomas Watson, All Things For Good pg. 98

We need to serve others too (Matthew 25:35-36). But God loves it when, like Mary did Jesus (Luke 10:39-42), we contemplate, or study Him. “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I think it’s so important that we learn God’s will, and pray for things that we know are His will–as loving Him more is–as Watson says. (Psalm 37:4, 1 John 5:14)

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
John 17:3

Don’t know what to do with Greek

I’ve been working on Greek for about three years now, with some breaks for surgeries and other low points for various reasons. I started with Croy’s grammar and switched to Black after I reviewed it and liked it better. I bought Mounce for good measure. After getting great help from Esteban with pronunciation (not the never-used-by-any-Greek-speaking-person Erasmian rules), I tried to spend about 20 minutes a day on the book and then some time on vocabulary. After starting over with Black’s book twice, and dabbling in Dobson, I’ve finished Black, but feel like I don’t know the material very well. I used the workbook for a while, but didn’t use it fully, because I’m a bad person. I’m now taking an online conversational Greek course, but I’m not sure if it’s getting me where I want to go.

So, I’ve spent three years on this and I can read some easier passages and pretty much know what they say, but I don’t understand the intricacies of the grammar or understand it in a way that’s more nuanced than English translations.

Sometimes I want to just leave it here and be satisfied with being able to understand what scholars are writing about in commentaries. I really miss memorizing new Scripture, even though I have my head full with reviewing what I have, and I could do more book reading if I’m not spending as much time on Greek. Or I could go back to the workbook and get to know the material better. But to really be able to read my Greek NT, I would need to spend another three years on this. I probably need another year reviewing Black’s material and going through Mounce for secondary material, and then maybe work on Black’s next book that’s an in-between before going on to Wallace. I think Wallace is asking too much. (Well not him, but you know.) I keep seeing things on why we should learn the Biblical languages, but those are mainly for pastors.

So what would you do? Should I be content with where I am and learn more here and there? Should I keep on spending more time on something I’m not sure I’ll be able to fully utilize, meaning NT exegesis?

I will continue with the conversational course through June or July, keep up with the vocabulary and possibly go back to the workbook for a while, but I just don’t know what my expectations should be, or how much more time I should or want to spend. If you have any opinions, I’d love to hear them.

I just learn what the Holy Spirit teaches me

I read about many lone ranger Christians who say it’s just them and the Holy Spirit. They don’t need denominations, ‘isms’ or creeds. They just learn what the Holy Spirit teaches them. See what Michael Horton says about that.

Many of these people see Calvinism as being arrogant. And the term “our theology” would seem to fit that supposition. But read on to find out what is meant by that.

I have written this book on the heels of another theology book entitled The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way.1 As I explained in the introduction to that book, the old Reformed theologians would sometimes refer to their summaries of the faith as “our theology.” They referred to it this way for two reasons. First, to indicate that what they were writing was distinct from God’s own self-understanding. This is why they would sometimes use the term ectypal when talking about their theology. Though it sounds somewhat technical, an ectype is simply a copy, with the archetype as the original. Talking about theology as “ectypal,” then, is a humble admission that only God’s own self-knowledge is original (archetypal). All that we say about God is a copy, subject to error. We will never know anything exactly as God knows it. Instead, we know things as he has revealed them to us, accommodating his knowledge to our feeble capacity to understand.

Second, the older theologians referred to their summary of faith as “our theology” to make it clear that it was not just “my theology” — their own individualistic understanding of God. To study theology involves entering into a long, ongoing conversation, one that we did not begin. Others have been talking about God long before you or I entered this discussion. We do not read the Bible somewhere off by ourselves in a corner; we read it as a community of faith, together with the whole church in all times and places.

Because our theological understanding is necessarily limited and finite, subject to our sinful biases, affections, and errors, I follow a venerable Christian tradition by referring to this volume as a “pilgrim theology” for those on the way — Christians who humbly seek to understand God but who are aware of their own biases and sinful tendencies to distort the truth. Older theologians used this term to distinguish our theological understanding from that of the glorified saints. A day will yet come when we are glorified and the effects of sin fully conquered, and our understanding of God will be fuller, more complete. Even in this condition, however, we will still be finite and our theology will remain ectypal — creaturely. Yet it will no longer be a theology for pilgrims. It will no longer be subject to sinful error. Then, we shall know, even as we are fully known.

Michael Horton

For those who say, “The Bible is my creed”, listen to what Carl Trueman has to say about all of this.

Creeds demonstrate doctrinal competence.

–Carl Trueman

C.S. Lewis on Devotionals

“For my own part,” wrote Lewis, “I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that `nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.”

–C.S. Lewis

I feel this way now although 1) I got a lot out of Oswald Chambers devotionals in the past and 2) There are some very good, meaty devotionals out there now. But I would rather read a chapter of Calvin’s Institutes each day, which is only about two pages, or a commentary or Puritan theology or something of the sort.

Living Language Greek Resources

Living Greek is a way of learning visually and verbally. It’s gaining momentum as people are trying to learn how to teach adults Greek for reading and study purposes, and still be able to understand and retain what they learn. The textbook/classroom method doesn’t seem to stick with most people, so many teachers are using a method that’s very different. I won’t bumble around trying to explain it any more than that.

First, I have a PDF file explaining Buth’s reconstructed pronunciation. I have a previous post on that, where you can read why I think the Erasmian pronunciation rules are so silly (don’t get me started), but the PDF file isn’t at the link anymore. I saved it at that time and am providing it here (same link as above).

Any others?


Components of Repentance According To Calvin

Here is something I put together based on Calvin’s Institutes and A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes.

Mortification of the flesh through a true knowledge and hatred of sin (Is 1:16) is the prelude and companion to vivification of the spirit (Is 1:17)–arising from rebirth, and living to God–which are the two parts of repentance.

Specifically, vivification is:

“the desire to live in a holy and devoted manner, a desire arising from rebirth; as if it were said that man dies to himself that he may begin to live to God.”

–John Calvin, Institutes, (III.iii.3)

And its three components:

  1. Participation in Christ unto righteousness
  2. Spirit-governed life
  3. Doing good works

–Joel Beeke, A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, pg 297-298

Obviously whole books are written on these things, but if you’re unfamiliar and come across them, at least you’ll hopefully have a framework, if you should happen to remember this. I’ve got it in Evernote and will re-read about it more widely in these books as necessary (cuz I won’t reember all of it) while living it out.

You can easily find the Beveridge translation of the Institutes of the Institutes for free online in many different formats.

New City Catechism Is Up

I will be going through this since I’ve never gone through a catechism. Be sure to read the Introduction first. There is a short question and answer, commentary by various theologians, a short video and a prayer.

New City Catechism

Encouraging reason to learn Greek

8. You’ll have to slow down. Reading the New Testament in Greek makes the reader slow down. You have to think about every word, phrase, and sentence. To quote Robertson again, “The Greek compels one to pause over each word long enough for it to fertilize the mind with its rich and fructifying energy” (Robertson, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, 21).

–Channing Crisler, Theses Regarding the Need to Learn Biblical Greek

Since I’m not sure how far past beginning level I’ll be going, I’ll definitely be reading it slow.

See the link for other reasons.

Right now as I’m recovering from surgery, I’m in a lot of pain and taking medication for it. I’m nearing the end of a commentary on Luke, but can’t read it right now because I just can’t concentrate well enough to do it justice. But I must and really want to read the Bible, so I’m taking half chapters at a slow pace. I’m sure I’m missing some things, but at the same time, because I’m taking it so slowly, I’m noticing some details I don’t think I would normally have noticed. So there is something to going very slow–slower than normal slow. Like a forced slowness.

I’m also reading some photography magazines and listening to some interviews of preachers/theologians and roundtable discussions. Good times. (Not exactly)


David Black’s Greek Portal

From Dave Black Online:
“Got some great news. If you’ve been to our Greek Portal you’ve noted that it is pretty barebones. Well, all of that is about to change. Matthew Myers, my new assistant, is working on revamping and significantly expanding the Greek Portal to make it, we hope, one of the leading Greek sites on the web. My prayer is that it will become a major hub of information for what is going in Greek studies today and a great resource for all students of the language.

Now, there’s a way you can help us. If you know of a website that you feel just absolutely has to be included here, please let us know. It need not be the website of an accomplished scholar either. You see, one of the things I love to do is encourage younger scholars and students to contribute to the study of Greek. Our message is simple: Greek is for everybody. So if you think you have something to contribute to Greek studies today, please let me know. I am eager to hear from you at [e-mail obfuscated-click on it]. Thank you.

Matthew, by the way, blogs here. Check out what he has to say about More Light on the Path – an excellent tool to maintain your Greek and Hebrew.”

Learned and Learning God’s Teachings

God opens our eyes to see the wonderful things in His teachings. The Psalmist has worked to learn and obey God’s law’s. (Memorization is a given.) It’s God that does the teaching. The Psalmist wants to keep learning. God will keep teaching. A joyful lifelong cycle.

I love this Psalm more every time I read it.

Psalm 119:18 GW
Uncover my eyes
so that I may see the miraculous things in your teachings.

Psalm 119:11-13 NET
In my heart I store up your words,
so I might not sin against you.
12 You deserve praise, O LORD!
Teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I proclaim
all the regulations you have revealed.

Psalm 119:33 GW
Teach me, O LORD, how to live by your laws,
and I will obey them to the end.

Psalm 119:60 GW
Without any hesitation
I hurry to obey your commandments.

Psalm 119:64 GW
Your mercy, O LORD, fills the earth.
Teach me your laws.

Psalm 119:111 GW
Your written instructions are mine forever.
They are the joy of my heart.

Greek: Back to the Basics – Again

Now and then I’ve been writing about how frustrated I am with Greek and that I’m not sure if I really want to do it. This last time around I did a lot of thinking and realized that part of it may be I just don’t know what I’ve ‘learned’ well enough. It’s like college where they go too fast (for me). I was never good in a classroom.

I enjoy everything more the better I am at it and the more I know whether it’s a hobby or profession. I usually treat hobbies almost like they’re a career. I’ve gone back and read through Black’s book, my main one, from the beginning a couple of times, but that’s not enough.

Someone, I can’t remember who, said to be sure to get out that workbook I have. So I decided to start over yet again and this time use the workbook. There are a lot of exercises. But I think that’s what I need. So now I’m starting Chapter 6 after having done it for a few weeks and I’m a little more positive about it, even though it will set me way back time-wise. I was originally about 4/5ths of the way through the book.

I also want to do a little learning by immersion by reading passages I have memorized in English in the Greek NT, unless some of you think that’s a bad idea for some reason.

So I hope by the time I get back to where I was, along with reading Mounce and Croy again along with it, that I’ll have a much better understanding and not feel lost because I wasn’t really learning the material like I should. There are no deadlines or semesters for me.