• Christian Living

    Comparison: the Good and the Bad

    “Comparison is the Thief of Joy” is a common saying, but I’m not sure who said it first. It is certainly true that some kinds of comparison can cause problems. But is all comparison wrong? In order to think through this issue, I ran a quick Bible search in the New Testament looking at all of the comparative adjectives (183 of them to be precise). Rather than list all of them, I want to just give some general observations from Matthew. Comparison in Itself is Not Wrong The first comparative adjective in the New Testament is an acknowledgement by John the Baptist that there is one coming “who is mightier than I” (Matt 3:11). Additionally, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives the obvious implication that life is “more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Matt 6:25). Clearly both of these comparisons are meant to realize important…

  • 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,  Review

    Book Review: The Synoptic Problem

    Recently I had the opportunity to read a new book published in 2016, The Synoptic Problem. The “Synoptic Problem” is a phrase used in NT studies to refer to the comparison of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and examine their relationship. This new book, edited by Stanley Porter and Bryan Dyer, gives an overview of four main views: the Two Source hypothesis, the Farrer hypothesis, the Two Gospel hypothesis, and the Orality and Memory hypothesis. Craig A. Evans writes to present the two source hypothesis, which teaches that Mark was the first gospel written, and Matthew and Luke were literarily dependent upon Mark. This hypothesis also teaches that where Matthew and Luke share the same details that are not mentioned in Mark, they are dependent upon another source, referred to as “Q.” Mark Goodacre writes to represent the Farrer hypothesis. This theory holds that Mark was the first gospel…