• Old Testament

    What Color was Joseph’s “Coat of Many Colors”?

    I still remember learning the story of Joseph and his brothers in Sunday School growing up. I remember watching the story played out on a flannelgraph where the main character, Joseph, was displayed in his brightly colored “rainbow” coat. I also remember going to a local theater to watch the musical, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.” These were landmark times in my life. But, were these teachings mistaken? Read More

  • Church,  Hermeneutics,  Theology

    7 Beliefs that Don’t Define Dispensationalism

    Readers of this blog may be curious as to what makes someone a dispensationalist. Simply put, dispensationalism is a set of doctrinal beliefs that deal with hermeneutics (how to read Scripture), ecclesiology (how the church operates), and eschatology (what the end times look like). Hence, a dispensationalist holds a distinctive set of beliefs about understanding Scripture, the role and function of the church, and about the end times. Read More

  • Hermeneutics,  Theology

    How do You Define Dispensationalism?

    I have written previously on the beliefs that are often linked with a dispensationalism, yet should not be associated with the theological system itself. Those beliefs are not inherent to the system of dispensationalism, and therefore are not essential to a dispensationalist. Today we turn the page and look at which beliefs define dispensationalism. We can define dispensationalism as a set of doctrinal beliefs that deal with hermeneutics, ecclesiology, and eschatology. This means that within those three spheres, a dispensationalist must hold to a specific set of beliefs concerning how one understands Scripture, the role and function of the church, and the end times. Thus, what follows are the four…

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament,  Old Testament,  Scripture

    Does Your Theology Start with Jesus? I Hope Not.

    Jesus is to be recognized as sovereign Lord in the church. But, is it justified to start with Jesus when it comes to forming theology? Many Christians affirm just that. For example, I was once listening to a podcast and the subject was raised about how we formulate our theology. One speaker said something like, “We must get our theology from the life and person of Jesus who is God incarnate. If your theology does not match with who he is, then go back to him and start over.” Read More

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament,  Old Testament

    What Does it Mean: Scripture was Fulfilled?

    We see the use of this terminology all over the New Testament. For example, Jesus says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Elsewhere John says that the events of the crucifixion happened “that Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 19:36). These are just two of the numerous examples in the New Testament. The question is, what does it mean? The most common understanding of the “fulfilled” language is that of prediction-actualization. The Old Testament prophets predicted certain things, and the actualization of that prophecy comes to pass (i.e., it was fulfilled). For example, in Isaiah 7:14 we see a prophecy concerning a virgin giving birth. In…

  • Hermeneutics,  Scripture

    The Danger of a Bible Cross Reference

    We cross reference all the time. A cross reference is simply using one text of Scripture to understand another text. But is it always good to cross reference? Consider the following situation. Let’s say a friend or neighbor comes up to you and says, “The Bible is clear that baptism is necessary for salvation.” Now, you may be immediately put off by such a suggestion, but what if he goes on to quote Acts 2:38? Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” How would…

  • Hermeneutics,  Scripture

    Red-Letter Christians

    There is an official website called www.redletterchristians.org, with the stated purpose as follows: The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount. I think I understand the intent of this group. However, the premise is mistaken and it leads to the ultimate question: Should we treat the words of Jesus differently than the rest of Scripture?

  • Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    Is Jeremiah 29:11 a Promise for Christians?

    It is that time of year—graduations left and right! This time of year often brings about encouraging notes and cards. Sometimes, well-meaning Christians will pencil in Jeremiah 29:11 with a note that says, “I know God has great things in store for you!” This message is not limited to graduations. Growing up, I knew many people who memorized Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise for themselves that God would bless them and give them good things: Read More