Passion 2015


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1 Corinthians 15: Why the resurrection matters, Part 2

death3. God’s Creation

If the earth is going to be purified and redeemed, rather than being destroyed, then that affects our attitude toward many things, especially the earth itself. How can we pollute our planet and then defend ourselves saying, “It’s all going to burn, anyway”? We can’t. In fact, that God loves his Creation — despite its broken, fallen nature — is clear in scripture.

(Psa 104:10-24 ESV)  10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills;  11 they give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth  15 and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.
16 The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.  17 In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
19 He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting.  20 You make darkness, and it is night, when all the beasts of the forest creep about.
21 The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God.  22 When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening.
24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

So read this psalm and then say, “God, you won’t care if we pollute our streams and destroy the homes of wildlife unnecessarily — it’s all going to burn.” You can’t because the psalm plainly shows God’s concern not just for the Creation in general but for the wild animals, the mountains, the trees, and mankind. Continue reading

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Bible Software: Additional Thoughts on Logos 6

logoshomepageFather’s Day is just around the corner, I’ve just had my anniversary, and my birthday was shortly before then. It seemed like a good time to upgrade my Logos to the Silver module from the Bronze. I wanted some of the commentaries that Silver provides, along with some of the additional biblical languages resources, and the upgrade was the cheapest path. Besides, the salesman gave me an additional $90 off on the Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. I couldn’t say no.

But Logos has always frustrated me. While it has some incredible tools, it can run slow on all but the fastest computers. It especially runs slow if you have several books open at once, and it has a way of leaving open each of the last several books you opened, bringing the software to a crawl. And closing each book one at a time is tedious beyond description.

By sheer happenstance, I came across this video on how to close multiple resources at once and how to scan through several commentaries or Bibles or dictionaries without filling the screen with dozens of books, jamming up even a very modern, fast computer. Continue reading

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How to Study the Bible: The Cosmic Temple


We need to add a fourth ingredient to our cake mix: the Creation as Temple of God.

Lately, I’ve seen several scholars refer to the fact that the Creation is pictured as God’s Temple in Genesis 1 — which is hardly obvious. I thought I’d go looking to see what the scholars are referring to.

A helpful introduction to the subject is Genesis 1 as Temple Text in the Context of Ancient Cosmology, by John H. Walton.

The cosmos is portrayed in the ancient world and in the Bible as a temple, and temples are designed to be micro-models of the cosmos. Temples are built in the ancient world for the gods to rest in, which does not refer to relaxing, but to enjoying and maintaining security and order. With the mention of God’s rest on day seven, we can see that Genesis 1 is also thinking about the cosmos as a temple. God is creating his dwelling place, putting people into it as his images (representatives), and taking up his place at the helm to maintain the order he has established.

Imagine a pagan temple of the ancient near east. It would be a microcosm of the entire cosmos as viewed by that pagan religion. God’s temple is the entirety of the cosmos! Continue reading

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Bible Software: TheWord

theWord Bible SoftwareReader Dru recently recommended the free Bible software TheWord. So I took a look and worked with it a bit. And for free software, I must say that I’m impressed.

The software is far more user friendly than most, being most similar to Accordance among the paid Bible software. The programmer provides a default look and interface that allows the student to quickly set up and find what he’s looking for. Excellent programming.

Like all free Bible software, the commentaries and other resources are limited to public domain materials, but the Hebrew and Greek resources are easily accessed and intuitive. For those mainly wanting to find the Greek word or text in a passage, along with morphology (verb tenses, that sort of thing) and definitions, TheWord will be more than sufficient for most. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 15: Why the resurrection matters, Part 1

deathPaul is insistent, not only that all Christians will be resurrected when Jesus returns, but also that this resurrection will be a bodily resurrection. The resurrected body will be gloriously transformed versions of our present bodies, but bodies nonetheless — in fact, bodies that are like the body Jesus had when he was resurrected.

So why was this so important to Paul? Well–

1. Denying the resurrection

Jesus left an empty tomb, and so will we. But the modern teaching of nearly all churches is that our “souls” will go to heaven, leaving our bodies in the grave. And if that’s the case, why are we insistent on the empty tomb? Why not take the position that Jesus wasn’t bodily resurrected but his soul went to heaven. Why can’t the appearances of Jesus be appearances by his soul — his ghost or spirit?

And that’s exactly the position of some liberal Christians — and others who deny the resurrection. Continue reading

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Tony Campolo changes positions on gay sexual activity

TonyCampoloTony Campolo is a popular author and speaker in the evangelical churches, representing a leftwing perspective while attempting to honor scriptural authority. For many years now, he has famously taught that Christians may not, consistent with the scriptures, engage in homosexual activity. His wife has long taught to the contrary.

Today, Campolo issued a statement declaring that he has changed his position and now considers gay marriage, and homosexual activity within gay marriage, acceptable for Christians. You should read the entire statement, not just the portions that I quote. Continue reading

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How to Study the Bible: Thin Walls

biblepage-781x1024Rather like preparing to bake a cake the old-fashioned way — from scratch — we’ve been adding ingredients to our narrative hermeneutic.

We started with Scot McKnight’s A-B-A’ formulation. We added some elements from John Walton’s Covenant argument.

Next, we need to consider N.T. Wright’s understanding presented in Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense

Wright explains Christianity in terms that make so much sense you wonder why you never thought of it yourself. The idea is that the story of the Bible can be stated in terms of the closeness of heaven and earth. It outlines like this.

In the beginning, heaven and earth touched in the Garden of Eden. They were so close that God walked with Adam and Eve. Continue reading

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The Future of the Churches of Christ: Church Revitalization

churchRevitalThom S. Rainer has long been a leading expert and consultant on church growth. He’s authored countless books, and participated in numerous studies on what works and what doesn’t. He recently posted an article summarizing what works when it comes to revitalizing a church.

Two Foundational Issues

First, the church must have the right leaders on board. Second, the behavioral patterns of the church members must change.

No infusion of methodologies or innovations can take place until these two issues are addressed. Such is the reason most revitalizations fail, and only a few succeed. Let’s look at that reality in light of three approaches.

Leadership and attitudes. It makes sense. No church will change unless someone leads the church to change, and then the church must be willing to follow its leaders. Makes sense. Continue reading

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How to Study the Bible: The Covenants

biblepage-781x1024Walton lays out God’s history of covenants in terms that I’d never heard before.

He concludes that the covenant made with Noah is separate from all the others, as it indicates no effort toward self-revelation. God had appeared to Noah and rescued him from the coming destruction. But it wasn’t yet time to introduce the plan that would culminate in Jesus.

That plan begins with Abraham, leading to this
pattern — Continue reading

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