• Church,  New Testament

    Elder, Bishop, or Pastor?

    How do you refer to church leaders? Do you use the term elder, bishop, or pastor? If you are confused by these different denominational terms you are not alone. A bishop is typically equated with Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches, although Anglican and a few Lutheran churches also use the term. The term elder is often associated with the Mormon church and the young men you meet in ties on your front porch, though more evangelical churches are utilizing the term elder now. For most people, the term pastor is an easily-recognizable term referring to the spiritual leader of a church. I grew up in a baptist church that had a pastor, and assistant pastor, and a deacon board. It was not until high school that I was introduced to the idea of elder. When I began to study what the Bible had to say about church leadership, what I…

  • Christian Living,  Church,  New Testament

    Church Discipline: The Forgotten Pillar

    Little known to most people, the 1561 Belgic Confession gives three marks by which the true church is known: (1) preaching the pure gospel, (2) observing the sacraments (i.e., baptism and communion), and (3) practicing church discipline. Throughout church history, church discipline has been an integral component of God-fearing churches. However, a recent survey of pastors revealed that 55% of churches have never formally disciplined a member. Another 21% stated that, although the church had practiced church discipline, it was three or more years ago. Clearly, church discipline has fallen on hard times and is hardly viewed as a pillar of the church. There are a variety of reasons churches do not practice church discipline. One reason, sadly, is ignorance. In order to alleviate the ignorance, my goal in this post is to provide a simple template for following church discipline as taught in Matthew 18:15–17. Church Discipline Step 1:…

  • New Testament

    The Illegal Trial of Jesus

    One of the things that has always fascinated me is the rule of law and how trials operate to either convict or acquit the accused. Jewish law in particular had specific guidelines for how trials should be conducted. Violation of these guidelines was to be viewed as an illegal practice and a miscarriage of justice. But that didn’t stop the Jewish leadership from conducting an illegal trial against the Son of God. The illegal trial of Jesus, as reported by the Gospels is evidenced in many ways. Since I’ve been reading through Will Varner’s Passionate about the Passion Week (see the podcast interview here), I thought I would post a few of his observations about the illegal nature of Jesus’ trial. Although Varner notes there were many illegal aspects of the trial of Jesus, here are a few of the more prominent illegalities. The trial of Jesus was illegal because…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    The Inferior Prophecy of the New Covenant

    If I said the prophecy of the New Covenant was inferior to the Old Covenant, what would you think? Most of the time we focus on the superiority of the New Covenant in relationship to the Old Covenant. And rightly so! The Old Covenant never had the provision to save anyone (Heb 10:4). The Old Covenant never was able to perfect anyone (Heb 10:1). The New Covenant is vastly superior. The New Covenant is also superior with regard to one’s relationship with God. Whereas under the Old Covenant God’s relationship with the people was located spatially in the temple, now believers themselves are regarded as the temple of God where He lives (cf. 1 Cor 6:19; Eph 2:19-22). This is a significant transition to a greater privilege from the Old Covenant. Paul describes the comparison of the Old and New covenants as follows: For if there was glory in the…

  • New Testament

    Preterism and This Generation in Matt 24:34

    Preterism views the label “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 as one of the most important factors in determining one’s eschatological viewpoint. Does “this generation” refer to the disciples to whom Jesus is talking, or a future generation? Matthew 24:34 and the mention of “this generation” occurs in the midst of the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25). The Olivet Discourse was prompted by the disciples’ question about when the destruction of Jerusalem would be, and what sign would signify Christ’s return (Matt 24:3). In answer to the disciples, Jesus gives the following signs of the impending destruction: There will be many false Christs, wars, and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines (vv. 4-8) There will be persecution and a mass apostasy, but the gospel will be preached to the whole world (vv. 9-14) The abomination of desolation in fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 will take place and mark the need to flee from…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament

    Full List of Resurrections in the Bible

    I have previously discussed how many future resurrections there are in the Bible, focusing specifically on the theology behind resurrection. However, I also thought it would be helpful to list all of the resurrections that are mentioned in Scripture for reference. Resurrection of the widow’s son in Zarephath (1 Kgs 17:17–22) Resurrection of the Shunammite’s son (2 Kgs 4:18–37) Resurrection of the man thrown into Elisha’s grave (2 Kgs 13:20) Resurrection of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:41) Resurrection of the young man at Nain (Luke 7:14) Resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:38–44) Resurrection of unknown saints during the crucifixion (Matt 27:52–53) Resurrection of Christ (Matt 28:1-6) Resurrection of Tabitha/Dorcas (Acts 9:36–42) Resurrection of Eutychus (Acts 20:7–12) Resurrection of the Church (i.e., Rapture, 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:23) Resurrection of the Two Witnesses (Rev 11:7–11) Resurrection of OT Saints and Martyrs (Revelation 20:4) Resurrection of the Wicked (Revelation 20:5) Given the helpful…

  • Christian Living,  New Testament

    Where Does Conflict in Relationships Come From?

    Relationships always involve sinners. Since sinners sin, conflict is inevitable in all relationships and we need to deal with it. Because of the ubiquitous nature of conflict, we also need to understand it. One of the most pertinent passages to know with regard to conflict is James 4:1-3. James 4:1-3 addresses the source of conflict in relationships. 1. Conflict comes from within (James 4:1a) The first point worth noting is that conflict arises from within—from the heart! Understanding a biblical theology of the heart helps solidify this point. The concept of heart in biblical language is the decision-making, control center of life. It is more akin to the way we think of making up our mind. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Likewise, Jesus states, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    Why Do Some People Believe in Hell?

    The NY Times recently ran an article entitled, “Why Do People Believe in Hell?” The opening line states, “The idea of eternal damnation is neither biblically, philosophically nor morally justified. But for many it retains a psychological allure.” In other words, there is no reason to believe in hell except for some psychological brokenness. Later in the article, the author gives the following reason why many believe in hell: “How can we be winners, after all, if there are no losers? Where’s the joy in getting into the gated community and the private academy if it turns out that the gates are merely decorative and the academy has an inexhaustible scholarship program for the underprivileged? What success can there be that isn’t validated by another’s failure?” Needless to say, I have never met anyone who believed in hell because they wanted to see losers in life in order to contrast…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament

    Was Melchizedek Jesus or Someone Else?

    The king-priest Melchizedek is introduced in Genesis 14:17-20. He is a bit of a strange character who seems to appears out of nowhere, and then disappears. We do not hear about Melchizedek again for a thousand years, when he shows up in the writings of David (Psalm 110:4). Melchizedek later becomes a prime topic of discussion in Hebrews. Because of this attention paid to an otherwise unknown character, some readers want to identify Melchizedek as Jesus. But are Melchizedek and Jesus one and the same? Admittedly, if it were not for the extended excursus on Melchizedek in Hebrews 7, one might pass over the brief mention in Genesis 14. Yet, we should also note that there is quite a bit of prominence given in Psalm 110:4, where Melchizedek is mentioned in conjunction with the Messiah. Because of the prominence given to Melchizedek in Psalm 110 and Hebrews 7, some have…

  • Christian Living,  New Testament

    Thanksgiving: the Atheist’s Least Favorite Holiday

    The Thanksgiving season is one of my favorite times of the year. There is just something about the weather, the excitement, and the theology behind the holiday that attracts me. The whole idea behind Thanksgiving is intrinsically biblical. We are all used to Thanksgiving as the title for our American holiday, but it is also a noun which refers to the act of giving thanks. The whole reason Thanksgiving is so named is because it is to be a special time reserved for giving thanks. (Although, I will say the advent of Black Friday really kind of cheapens the whole idea thanksgiving). Biblically, although the New Testament only directly commands thanksgiving in one place (1 Thess 5:18), that does not mean it is unimportant. Paul constantly practices thanksgiving, most often thanking God for fellow believers and their faithfulness (Rom 1:8; 1 Cor 1:4, 14; Eph 1:16; Phil 1:3; Col 1:3,…