Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sermon Recap for 9/27

I’ve moved sermon recaps to Tuesday to allow a little more time for audio and video processing. Also, there was a slight glitch with filming the morning sermon so we have audio but no video.

Morning Sermon: Matthew 6 Prayer: the Follow Up (audio)

Evening Sermon: Introduction to Exodus Part I (audio)


Monday, September 28, 2015


Last week saw me spend Thursday back in school…every year I like to attend the Ouachita Baptist University Pruet School of Christian Studies Pastor’s Conference…or the OBU PSCS, for short. And for the record, back in the day we were just the “Religion Department” at OBU. This year was a bit different from normal, as George Guthrie from Union University presented the conference rather than OBU faculty. Considering Dr. Guthrie just finished an entire commentary volume on 2 Corinthians, the focus of our seminar.

Overall, it was a good day. I thought I’d share this clip from the singing as we got started:

Programming Note

Just a quick programming note:

Because of the shift in when I can get access to the digital audio and the video of sermons, the sermon recap is moving to Tuesday. The rest of the blog schedule will shift in some manner to compensate for that…



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sitting on the Right of the Throne: Hebrews 8

In Summary:

Our author (Luke, perhaps?) gets back to the "main point," as he says, in this chapter. That point? We have a high priest who has taken his seat. Or, to follow my style guide better, we have a High Priest who has taken His seat. That High Priest is Jesus. 

This particular chapter works us through the idea that the Tabernacle (Exodus) was never intended to be the actual focus of worship. Instead, the earthly Tabernacle, and the Temples that followed it, was a "shadow and a copy" of a heavenly reality. This reality? That God is, is unchanging, and is not flawed in any way. 

Further evidence of the disparity between the earthly and the heavenly is found in the quotations that make up the second half of this chapter. Jeremiah 31 is quoted and highlights the need for a new covenant. It is worth noting that this prophecy is given before the final fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple--that is, Jeremiah speaks the words of God about the need for a new covenant before the fall of the symbol of the old covenant. 

Our author (Apollos, perhaps?) takes this promise of God, for what is a prophecy if not a promise to fulfill it? and runs with it as evidence that Jesus is the mediator of the promised new covenant. Given that Jesus invoked the phraseology of the "new covenant" specifically at the Last Supper.

In Focus:

What, then, would our author (Barnabas, perhaps?) have us see about Jesus here? That He, unlike the ordinary high priests, instituted a new covenant that is complete and unshadowed. Rather than the covenant pictured by the Tabernacle and Temples, which required constant maintenance, this covenant allowed the High Priest to sit down and call it done.

Which should remind us of another point in Scripture, namely Genesis 2:2-3. Just as God finished creation and ceased from His work, so the Son finished redemption and ceased from that work. There was no longer a need to offer continual sacrifices, no having to return to bring more blood on a further day. 

In focus we should see the seated Christ, finished with His work of redemption.

In Practice:

Well, if Jesus is done with redemption, what is there for us to practice?

Several things:

1. Faith, demonstrated in bold obedience. We should be bold in our walk with Jesus, knowing that He has finished saving us and that we not fear being cutoff over a slight misstep. While we should be in touch with the Word of God so that we obey rightly, inactivity in fear of decision making does not show that we trust our redemption is secure in Christ.

2. Humility, demonstrated in compassion. It's always hard to write about humility. The more I say about it, the more obvious it is I need more humility. But since we can be clear that our redemption is accomplished by Jesus without any help from us, there should never be arrogance in the servant of God. We are redeemed, yes, and we are part of God's people, yes, but not because we are more awesome than the next person. Show your humility by demonstrating compassion to all.

3. Faith, demonstrated in bold obedience. Faith precedes our obedience and empowers it. But there is no way to demonstrate a faith that is mere emotional assent. Instead, our faith is shown by action which shows we trust God--through obedience.

In Nerdiness:

1. Nerd point A: our author (Paul, perhaps?) refers in v. 4 to the gifts being offered according to the Law. This causes me to date Hebrews prior to the destruction of the Temple (70 AD).

2. Nerd point B: our author (Barnabas, perhaps?) starts with "the main point..." as if he's getting a speech back on track. This is one of the reasons I think Hebrews is actually the record of an oral presentation. It was then bundled as a letter and sent--a sermon series delivered to one group of Hebrews and then written out and sent over to another group.

3. Nerd point C: the Septuagint (LXX, Greek translation of the Old Testament) is the source for the Jeremiah quotation. Not super critical, but tells us what was being used. It is likely that this helps us locate the composition of Hebrews to outside of Israel--but that's not required.

4. Nerd Point D: I find it very interesting that the reference here, and throughout Hebrews, focus on the Tabernacle and not the Temple. I wonder if this is because there is Scriptural support that the Tabernacle is designed by God (Exodus) while there is no such support for this view of the Temple? The Temple appears to have mainly copied the Tabernacle layout.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sermon Recap for Sept 20

Good morning! Here are the sermons from September 20th.

Morning Sermon: Matthew 6 (audio)

September 20 AM Matthew 6

Text: Matthew 6:9-13

Date & Place: Sept 20 EEBCAR

1. The petitions of the Lord's Prayer

2. How do we pray?

     A. Keep in mind that our relationship with God is the foundation for prayer

     B. Remember that prayer is not the power. God is the power. Prayer is the request that He work

3. The petitions:

     A. Address: "Our Father:" no right to prayer without Jesus. 

          Additionally: no prayer without unity.

     B. Hallowed: cognizant of His holiness--we do not make God holy but recognize that He is.

          Remember that "name" is not just the word for you but your reputation

     //In Heaven: on high and over all

     C. Your Kingdom come/Your will be done: not just a request but a commitment

     D. Give us this day: Man does not live by bread alone-but man does need bread. Daily trust, daily supply, 

     E. Forgive us, as we have forgiven: ouch.

     F. Lead us not/deliver us: work in us and through us to overcome ourselves

4. The Key: where is your relationship with God?

Evening Sermon: Genesis Part II (audio)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Book: Understanding Prophecy

Understanding Prophecy

Today’s book is Understanding Prophecy from Kregel Academic. Authored by Alan S. Bandy and Benjamin L. Merkle, both of whom are New Testament professors at Baptist schools. (Bandy is also the author of The Prophetic Lawsuit in the Book of Revelation, which sounds fascinating.)

On to the book at hand, which is substantially more affordable than Bandy’s Lawsuit volume. The prophetic passages of the bible are among the most studied and least understood, overall, as we often go to them as divination students rather than Biblical students. Authors Bandy and Merkle make the case in the introductory matters that when we look only to the end-of-time concepts in prophecy, we often miss what God is revealing about His character and His everyday work in the world.

That is not to say there is no element of forward-looking in prophecy. Nor that we shouldn’t check out those ideas, only that the Revelation (and Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel) is God’s Word about today, not just about “that day.”

In view of this, we have a book with 10 chapters and 2 appendices guiding the reader through the concepts of the prophetic in Scripture. The authors do not attempt to explain every prophecy in the Bible. Instead, they present a framework for understanding prophecy.

It follows that their presuppositions about Scripture and prophecy come through in the writing. Both assume that Scripture contains no errors and that predictive prophecy is possible. Further, that prophecy in Scripture is accurate, not imaginary.

Is it an easy read? No. This is a primarily academic book. There’s no fluffy moments or pictures, and there is a need for a basic grasp of Biblical interpretations principles.

If you’re into the quick-pop prophecy, trying to line up current events and popular figures with Biblical passages, then this won’t help you with that. In fact, it will probably knock that idea flat. Which would be healthy.

I heartily recommend this for pastors and those interested in deeper study in the prophecy sections of the Bible. The authors have done a good job explaining the presuppositions and viewpoints so that the reader knows their angle, and then presenting additional ideas beyond their own. I do not agree with some of their conclusions, but their process is helpful.


I received a copy of this book in exchange for the review.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sermon Recap for September 13

Well, after an upload that took unnecessarily longer than it should have, here are the sermons from yesterday. As of last night, we have started our Introducing the Bible series with Genesis, Part 1. It’s going to take a little more than a year to get through all of the Bible, so come join us!

Morning Sermon: Basics of Prayer: The Foundation (audio)

September 14 AM Matthew 6

Text: Matthew 6:5-8

Date & Place: Sept 14 AM EEBCAR

Title: Prayer: The Foundation

Primary Theological Point: What should we learn? Prayer is centered in our relationship with God

Primary Practical Point: What should we do? Pray.

Take Home Action: Two points: pray specifically about DJSO; Set a prayer appointment.

Evening Sermon: Introducing Genesis Part I (audio)

Genesis Part I Slide Show

More presentations from Doug Hibbard

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book: The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist

ImageToday’s book is The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist, or The Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments by Andy Bannister. The foreword is written by Ravi Zacharias, who is well-known in most Christian circles as an author/speaker on apologetics issues. I’ve enjoyed his material that I have read, but it would take a lot for me to buy a book just for the foreword. Zacharias’ words are good, but not that good.

Instead, I would suggest you buy this book for Bannister’s writing. Now, I must start with a caveat: I picked up this book already sharing most of Bannister’s beliefs about the universe: we are both theists of the Christian variety. As I have only examined the arguments of atheism from the outside, I am not qualified to say that Bannister’s work will tear down the logical edifice of New Atheism and earn him a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of Evangelism (alongside the Apostle Paul, the Venerable Bede, and John Bunyan.) He may be that persuasive, but I already agreed with him so finding that I continue to do so at the end of the book tells us nothing.

This highlights what is, perhaps, the main flaw of this book: what audience is it intended for? I am more thoroughly convinced atheism is wrong than when I started, but my belief in a providential God who got me safely through traffic to work today also supports that. The slightly jesting tone may annoy those who are the target of the jests more than enlighten them, so I’m not certain the work will persuade many atheists.

Perhaps the best guess at the audience is two groups of people. The first are those who are headed into atheism because they find some of the arguments of the “New Atheism” attractive but have not thought fully through them. Bannister’s work will drive at least a few people to think more clearly before they make the leap.

The other good audience for this book are those Christians who are intimidated by the vocal advocates of the New Atheism. The folks who see the Facebook threads or hear the rantings on television advocating that religions are always all bad. Many times, believers feel they are on the wrong end of the argument, holding on by a mere thread of faith. Bannister’s work should enlighten the timid to this reality: all philosophical viewpoints involve some rational leaps. And this includes those who assert that their belief isn’t really a belief.

In all, I’m pleased with this book. I would love to see the same rigor applied to some of the logical arguments for God that has been put onto the arguments for atheism. (Note that this book is as much about the arguments for a specific belief system that is atheism, not for or against the existence of God.) I have found that wanting another helping is often the best sign of a good meal, and likewise with writing: wanting another indicates that this one was pleasurable.

I think The Atheist who Didn’t Exist is worth your time to read.

I did receive a copy in exchange for the review.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Priest out of Line: Hebrews 7

In Summary:

Well, Hebrews 7 continues the “wait, what is he talking about?” portion of Hebrews. Melchizedek is nearly the focus of this chapter—he’s not, Jesus is—and we just don’t know much about Melchizedek. Apart from the mentions in the Epsitle to the Hebrews, we would probably count him as a minor character from Genesis 14. Instead, we take a long, hard look at him as an important figure who is a “type” (literary example) of Christ.

The identity and heritage of Melchizedek is addressed in this chapter. Well, actually his lack of lineage. Melchizedek is spoken of as having no ancestry. Rather, he is identified as remaining a priest forever because his death is not noted in Scripture. (There’s two ways to see this: he never died, and was a theophany; he did die but it’s not recorded so he remains “listed” as a priest. Sound study does not solve this on the basis of this chapter alone.)

Melchizedek, though, is not the focus of the chapter. Neither are Abraham or Levi, who are also mentioned. Jesus is. Not just because the whole Bible is about Jesus but because the Patriarchal Age figures are brought up to show the supremacy of Christ over the Law. How so?

In Focus:

Let us make Hebrews 7:14 in focus today. Hebrews is addressing an early objection to Jesus as the One True High Priest of God. The priesthood, after all, is supposed to descend from the Levitical line. This rule goes back to Exodus and the whole golden calf problem. Levi’s descendants showed a zeal for God’s holiness that the other Israelites were disregarding and so God appointed the Levites as priests.

Jesus, though, is from the line of the tribe of Judah. For Him to be the High Priest (as Hebrews alleges,) He should have come from the Levites. Rather than resorting to all sorts of lineage gymnastics, though, the Lord provides the answer in this manner: even Levi, the great-grandson of Abraham, counted Melchizedek as a priest over him. (How? Because Abraham did, so it passed on.) Therefore, it’s possible to be a priest higher than the priestly line—and it is from this lineage that Jesus is accounted a priest. Not for biology but by the declaration of God.

In Practice:

One thing this does NOT mean, for the record, is that anybody else gets to come along and declare themselves a priest like Melchizedek. The author of Hebrews is declaring the fulfillment of that line just as much as the fulfillment of the Levitical line of priests and the Judahite line of kings. It all culminates with Jesus.

Beyond that, a few thoughts:

1. As a minister, this one speaks clearly to me: the frailty of human priests. I’m not a priest. Never have been, never will be—but just the same, if the priests needed daily sacrifices even with their insulated lives, how much more so do I need them? I’m not fit to be the priest of God’s people because I’m just as sinful. (7:26-27)

2. As a believer, stop trying to sort everyone and everything according to my own understanding. God works according to His character and His word, not according to my rationale. There will be times that this looks like I expect. And times it looks very different.

3. Furthermore, as a believer, proclaim the salvation in the great High Priest, Jesus. Not salvation according to religious traditions or spirituality, but according to the One who is perfect forever. (7:28)

In Nerdiness: 

Well, there’s plenty to nerd out about with Melchizedek, but we’ll leave it aside. You can find many viewpoints, including that he was really Jesus before the Incarnation, much like the Commander of the Army of Yahweh in Joshua 5-6. I’m not sure…check some Old Testament scholars on that idea.

And that’s actually one of the challenges about researching Melchizedek. This bears a challenge to you nerd folk: typically, we find a specialty area and pursue it. That’s great. Some concepts, though, break across those areas. Melchizedek is really an Old Testament figure. OT scholars are usually well-versed in Hebrew and other older Israelite issues. But the bulk of the Scriptural references to Melchizedek are found in Greek in the New Testament. One has to work across that divide to dig out the ideas.

In other words: build your silo, but don’t neglect the truth found in the other silos on the farm. They may interrelate more than you expect.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sermon Recap for September 6

Good morning! Here are the sermon recaps from last night.

Morning: John 3:25-36 (audio)

September 6 AM John 3:25-36

Text: John 3:25-36

Date & Place: September 6, EEBCAR

Title: "Speaking the Truth"

Take Home Action: Trash the other things clamoring for your allegiance.

1. The Word of God as our focus: John 3:28-30

2. The Word of God as our authority: John 3:31

3. The Word of God as our salvation: John 3:34-36

Evening Sermon: Intro to Bible Translations (audio)

Translating the Bible

More presentations from Doug Hibbard

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Book: NIV Zondervan Study Bible

The NIV Zondervan Study Bible, the hardcover of which looks like the picture, is a replacement product for the NIV Study Bible that I had in college. At the moment, it’s available in hardcover. For those who aren’t interested in reading it as a Bible, it therefore works well to break your toes when you drop it. This thing is heavy—nearly 3000 pages.
Without dwelling on the New International Version as a translation (I’m not a big fan of the 2011 revision of the NIV), let us take the features under consideration first. On the surface, an obvious helpful feature is full-color printing throughout the Study Bible. This not only allows pictures throughout, which is a great, but allows something else nice. The “study note” section is shaded in light tan while the Biblical text is on white paper.
The inspired text is therefore clearly separated from the ideas of the note writers. I like that. A lot. The note authors—a smorgasbord of evangelical scholars from the US and the UK—generally hold to a high view of Scripture. They come from a range of the evangelical world, from Baptists to Presbyterians and a few more.
I will not claim to have evaluated every note throughout the text, but I have yet to find one that is problematic. Passages that have major theological disputes about them (like Hebrews 6) follow the normal Study Bible pattern of providing most of the main views. That’s not a bad thing.
Further, each book is given a full introduction, addressing authorship, date, etc., the basics that are typically covered in an “Intro” type class. Overall, the information helps one study the Scriptures better.
If you are in the market for a study Bible, this one would make a good purchase. I’d prefer the notes and content coupled with the New American Standard, but the notes are worth it as a reference Bible. And, it is too bulky for taking it everywhere—I’d go for it on the shelf.
The purchase of the hardcover does gain free digital access through the Olive Tree Bible App. I’m still getting used to the app, so I won’t comment on how well it works. It’s better than nothing, but there’s always a learning curve with such things.

I did receive a free Bible for my review.\

Edited: Zondervan's website states that the older NIV Study Bible remains in print, so this isn't quite a replacement in their catalog. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wavering Back: Hebrews 6

In Summary:

One cannot come to Hebrews 6 without taking a look into the question of "falling away" that is raised in Hebrews 6:4-6. This is not the only content of Hebrews 6, however, and we would do well to not make it more than it is. Further, remember that we understand Scripture by placing it into its proper context, which includes not only the culture of writing but the overall context of the revealed Word of God. That is to say that one section fits within the whole, not contradicts it.

Before we return to those verses, though, let us look at the rest of this chapter. Noteworthy for our understanding is the overall thrust here--the need for maturity in the lives of believers. The first few verses address this need, as do the closing sections. We see a continued emphasis by the author of Hebrews that walking with Jesus is not something to be taken overly lightly.

In Focus:

Let us put the "falling away" passage in focus for now. Consider what is being said: that if one turns from the Gospel after having held it, there is no return. Early in the life of the church, this was understood to mean that one who willfully sinned after salvation was lost--coupled with a mistaken understanding of baptism as bringing salvation, practically speaking this led to a belief that one should not sin too much after being baptized. (For this reason, for example, it appears the Emperor Constantine delayed his baptism until he was near death.)

We see, though, in John 6, Romans 11, Philippians 1, Ephesians 2, 1 Peter, and many other places that believers are held by the power of God through the seal of the Holy Spirit. This precludes understanding Hebrews 6 as teaching that true believers can lose their salvation. Further, it is worth noting that if this is the teaching of Hebrews 6, then there is no return--once out, always out would become the refrain rather than the Baptist view of once saved, always saved. Further, this places a strange premium on sins committed after belief--the grace of God mediated through the Cross and the blood of Jesus is enough to save the vilest murderer but not the wretched backslider?

It is possible that the author of Hebrews is here addressing a singular group of individuals. Consider the era and Acts 19--there are people who are nearer to the Kingdom than others, but still not all the way in. Is it possible that there was a unique group of Hebrews who were, for lack of a better term, "one-foot-in, one-foot-out?" These would have not been truly saved but were wavering between two opinions. That would not be unique in Hebrew history, considering Elijah's challenge on Mt. Carmel.

Further, Hebrews as a whole addresses the need for the people to commit themselves, finally and fully, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is clear that the audience should grasp the nettle, take the bull by the horns, and go forward rather than halting about, waiting to see whether or not God is faithful.

After all, the key here is not what we can do, but Hebrews 6:19, that God is the author of the hope that we can anchor our souls to.

In Practice:

The first practical step is this: stop wavering. We have a temptation in the current era of the life of the church, and that is to hold on to the old ways of doing church and hope it's good enough for God. It's not, and never really was. The living faith of our fathers was what built their relationship. Not their architecture, budgetary prowess, or organizational structures. Not even holding services at 11:00. Instead, we need to go full out to being obedient to God rather than man. Even really spiritual men.

The second practical step is this: move forward, sure in your salvation. There is a time for introspection, asking "Am I truly of Christ?" There is also a time to take the Word of God and act upon it. If you have been a believer for years, the time is now for the latter, not constantly ruminating on the former. Get to work.

In Nerdiness:

Note the idea of "swearing" in Hebrews 6:13. Consider this: the idea is that one swears by a greater power than oneself, because that greater power will hold you to your oath. God swore by Himself, because He knew He could be trusted. Yet we rarely swear, honestly, by anything that has the power to hold us to our promises. Our word should be our bond, because we are honoring the One who swore to protect us. 

Sermon from May 19 2024

 Good morning! Yesterday we talked about Simon Magus. Didn't actually hit on the sin of simony, because we don't really see it that ...