Saturday, September 20, 2014

Preaching Noah from Genesis 9vs1-17 Exegesis and Application

When we come to Genesis 9 verses 1-17 what we immediately ask is what is the point of this passage and how we would preach it?
For many, the text is simply Noah and his family get a "fresh start" with God "recreating" after the destruction of the flood with the Lord God forming a new Covenant with them. It's almost like a rerun of Genesis 1 & 2.
Yet is it?
Even though there are parallels between Genesis 9 and Gen 1 & 2, still there is more at play here.

After the destruction of the world by the flood God does again direct man as to his role on the earth "be fruitful and multiply" and as we read this is again mentioned in verse 7. Here one needs to ask "why the repetition?"
Is it merely an emphasis on the new beginning?
I don't believe so. Just look closely at the literary flow of the text.
After the command to be fruitful and multiply in verse 1, God indicates that unlike in the garden Gen 1-2, the animals will now fear mankind, vs 2.
Secondly, now everything is edible, not merely the green plants, vs 3. And given that, one must make sure the animal is dead, that there is no life blood, before eating. vs 4.
Also importantly, if a person is killed by another man or animal they will be held accountable. vs 5-6. Indeed whoever sheds the blood of man [ death  ] will forfeit his life! After this our text repeats the command to be fruitful and multiply! Why?
I'd suggest it is telling you that even though sin will continue, man is to be fruitful and multiply.
After the massive judgment upon mankind because of man's sin, even after that, with a new beginning the sin problem remains. One may have been tempted to give up. In the face of the affirmation that man will still commit evil, that he will still kill his fellow man, man is still called upon to covenantal obedience and be fruitful and multiply.
So we need to ask, What will God do?
Well, the following verses tell us that he will not ever again flood the earth and destroy everything. and he confirms this promise by the sign of a rainbow.
[ as an aside here we note for those who suggest that the flood was local in extent doesn't gel with the text because it makes God to a liar since there have been destructive local floods with great loss of life since then. ]
So how do we go about seeing the application here?
The first is to see God keeps his promises. After the fall Genesis 3, God gave a promise to defeat Satan through His seed. Gen 3:15. The promised one, won't eventuate if all mankind is destroyed. so even though Man does his utmost to destroy each other and break relationship with God, to reject Him, and in all this satan works to stop the coming seed, despite all this God works to fulfil his promise! that encourages you doesn't it? From the beginning God allows nothing to thwart his gracious promises, so that we see Jesus crucified for our sin, for all mankind's sin and resurrected. That God keeps his promises should make us delight in the promise of His return.
A second application here has to do with man created in the image of God. That makes him special so that even though we see in the flood the Sovereign judgment of God, still He will persevere with man, until Jesus, the perfect image of God. it's not an ogre God, a judgmental God but one who also shows great patience and Grace.
Third, one cannot ignore that the commands to be fruitful and multiply is a demand of obedience so that with relationship comes responsibility.

In Christ,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hermeneutics sermon series #1

What I would do perhaps???
1.       Define hermeneutics – simply, it is how a persons reads and interprets the bible, something you already do. the question is how well!

      Technically it is the science and art of interpretation of texts. When it comes to the Bible it is the method in which we approach the Bible to interpret it and then apply it. James I Packer rightly points out the indispensable role of the Holy Spirit in this endeavour as it is He who illuminates the Bible for us. Yet there re are also principles we use in discovering the meaning of the text. namely we pay attention to the grammatical and the historical context of when it was written and also the historical meaning of the words used. Since the reformation this was called the grammatical historical hermeneutical method.

So why is this so important – such a big word? you might recoil at the word and such a technical definition as above.

Some might respond - "I prefer to just drift along", "I like to  keep things simple" "I want to just feel good" Yet we learn big words in our culture because they are significant to us. Eg "warranty." Our New car goes bust and I quickly appeal to warranty and read the complicated fine print.
2.       Why is the way to interpret scripture so important?
Because we want to make sure that we are going in the right direction concerning life and good works, 2 Tim 3:16-17 and not getting distracted from good works into second best or second rate or bad works! God has given us his revealed Word – don’t we need to hear what he says? And if so we need to hear it right – nothing worse than a spouse not interpreting what you say right – then all the more with listening to God.
And it’s important because God tells us here 2 Tim 3 that there are deceivers around – elsewhere we are told there are those who twist scripture to their own destruction and lead others astray. This no small matter.
3.       So first thing to understand is All Scripture is God – breathed2 Timothy 3:16-17. The very first point here is that God has spoken, even that He continues to speak in Scripture Hebrews 3:7 and the word is present tense. This is so important because there have been those who over the centuries have taught that God doesn't speak through His Word the Bible, and that there's an immense gulf [ Lessing's Ditch ] between the culture of the times of the Bible and today and we cannot understand the meaning of the text anyway. But this is nonsense.
      Secondly, God used people sure, but He used them with their cultural background and their experiences to say exactly what He wanted said. Explain "all Scripture = all writings", specifically the Old Testament, yet Peter 2 Peter 3:15-15, treats Paul's writings as Scripture and ...
So How am I to hear God? To listen, to Read His Word to us, the Scriptures. In Context.

      Perhaps I might also speak about Authority. The Authority of God and His Word in relation to Hermeneutics because we are tempted to follow and listen to other man centred and man made Authorities.

Your brother in Christ,

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why John Dickson's argument in Hearing Her Voice fails

Over at Lionel Windor's blog you can read an article by Andrew Heard critiquing John Dickson's argument in Hearing Her Voice.

I must say Andrew's argument is both well reasoned and thought provoking.
I would add to this that given John Dickson's argument hangs to a large extent on the meaning of didasko [ teach ] in 1 Tim 2:12, which Andrew points out that John wants to restrict to a technical sense of "passing on the oral traditions of the Apostles" in it's more narrow sense, which John wants to say means "deliver" or "pass on" then John's argument fails.
Why? Because Paul could more appropriately have used paradidomi [ deliver or pass on ] which when Paul used this in 1 Cor 11:23-24 has the very meaning that John wants it to have in 1 Timothy 2. This word is not rare in Paul's writings, he uses it at least 12 times in Romans and 1 Cor [ 6 each ]. So the very fact that Paul doesn't use the most appropriate Greek word to put his case [ as John
Dickson perceives it ] speaks volumes against Dickson's interpretation. It is part of hermeneutics that we take careful note of which words the author used and which ones he didn't when interpreting a passage, and that presents a powerful case against John's thesis. Certainly another possible alternative - rhuomi cannot be considered for for Paul's purpose in 1 Tim 2.
When you add to this how Paul uses teach [ didasko ] in 1 Timothy ( read both Claire Scott's articles, summarized by Lionel and Andrew's article to get the gist of this ) then his thesis is indeed weak and I'd say unacceptable.

But I would say this is not all to be said in critiquing it.
I would add as I've pointed out before, the scholarly support for his understanding of oral traditions doesn't say what he wants it to say, at least not in the case of Dunn 'Jesus Remembered'.
Secondly, and this follows on the tack of John's argument itself, that if we grant for the moment that teach in 1 Timothy 2 refers to passing on the oral traditions of the apostles, then Why does Paul go on to say in the same breath "nor have Authority." For if didasko meant what John wants it to mean nor have Authority is redundant since the apostolic oral tradition carries its own Authority.
Lastly, does this line of argument by Dickson mean that the "nebulous' oral traditions of the Apostles carry more Authority than the actual Scriptures before us? is that not a ludicrous idea?

In Christ

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Standing against the evil of ISIS

Trevin Wax over at the Gospel coalition write a succinct and thoughtful article about dealing with evil correctly. interacting with President Obama's address.
You can do well to read it and discuss it with your friends and neighbours.

Pray not just of the safety of Christians in Iraq but also for Muslims being murdered, and for young Muslims not to fall for this evil.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Authentic Christianity

An Authentic Christian is probably best summarized in the Beatitudes. What it means to be a Christian encompasses at least all of what Matt 5:1-14 speaks of.

My mate Rob drew attention to the following two points:

And ideally it is the God – Man Jesus who best exemplifies these attributes – he is the perfect Authentic Christian ( man ).
And when we say perfect we don’t mean holy as a moral attribute but wholly as set apart for a purpose and being that! That is, perfect means doing what it was created for!

Now part of that coming to grips with being a Christian is to take notice of the rebuke of God where that occurs, not shirking it off and quickly turning to the more sating passages of God loving us and dying for us and other favorite themes.

Some today think it is harsh when a preacher points out the ramifications of a passage that speaks rebuke.

It’s like some prefer to think “Well God  is just all on about encouragement, there’s no place for pointing out in detail or applying it in particular way because that is rattles my comfortableness and complacency. “ We think to ourselves “ I quite like going to church once a week and worshipping there”  – and here I am being very generous with myself about the once a week bit. Sadly it is so easy to make God up in my own imagination – a personal God who is comfortable and doesn’t expect too much of me.

Yet what am I to make of all those passages that begin in Genesis that point out that God is unhappy with our ( mankind’s] behavior and holds us to account – Israel’s history is full of the consequences of ignoring God. It brings about the judgment he has already warned about.

In Christ, again it is true that we are graciously saved, and that not by our own works, but we need to hear again that after salvation He calls us to obedience. Not that obedience saves us, but rather an obedience that pleases Him. He wants for us to be made in the likeness of Christ, the perfectly obedient man! The second Adam as Paul would say.

And this is also for our benefit. To be in God’s place is to be in the right and best place even if we don’t want to acknowledge that or it disheartens us that there is a continual struggle against the flesh the world and the devil.

It is so easy to gripe against a preacher who points out our failure to obey Hebrews 10:25 “let us not forsake the meeting together.. as some do.” You see the “let us” is not a suggestion, it’s a command. And it warns us that in actuality, some are in fact doing this, that is what the text, God’s Word, says!

But if we gripe about that what about when the preacher preaches on Revelation 2-3? Has the preacher just lightly skipped over what is said in the letters to the 7 churches and merely read out the verses? Or has he failed to clearly apply it or have we become so hardened that we gloss over what he has said and the Word of God itself says? What are we to make of the warning that we are neither hot nor cold and He will spew them out of his mouth? Is that just them or is it possible some of us are in the same boat? After all why is it there in Scripture, God’s letter to us, anyway? Is it just padding and something that is intended to tickle our ears and make us point the finger at others? God forbid.

The Great Commission doesn’t say go out and make converts - after all, that is what God does, rather it says make disciples and they are people who follow Christ and do as he says. After all the verse actually says “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded”.

O that I would be sanctified in Obedience to You O Lord.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Daniel 1 Living in a warped Culture

As I was talking with my younger daughter about the significance of Daniel 1 I was reminded of an experience I had when I was first off to University. I remember a concerned member of our congregation expressing alarm that I was studying philosophy at University. Her alarm was right to be voiced but her understanding of being helpful wasn't well thought out.

Today I have similar feelings about certain subjects being taught at University, some with their non-Christian worldview blatantly set forth in their teaching about the nature of mankind. Subjects such as Psychology, which set forth a view of man that is many times antithetical to the Christian understanding. Yet perhaps just as dangerous are those subjects that assume such views but are not forthcoming about those assumptions.

So what is one to do about this? Do we tell our young people that they just shouldn't do such subjects?
Here Daniel 1 gives us practical insight and guidance.
Daniel and his friend were taken off into exile to Babylon, a pagan and demonic culture. He was taken into the Kings palace to learn their language and customs and culture. Did he object? No. not even when they changed his name to represent that of one of the pagan gods of the Babylonians.
Only at one point did he object. At the point of food and wine from the kings table, because such was defiled.
But it wasn't objected to by Daniel because of his feelings. Not even because he didn't like that food. After all you would be hard pressed to make me eat eyeballs as some cultures do. But that wasn't Daniels reason for acting as he did.
Rather it was because of was forbidden by the word of God. As we find in Deut 32.

What this passage tells us that one can be godly in the midst of a pagan culture, even when learning their culture and language and customs. Still even when learning these things it doesn't mean one has to agree with them or have them assimilated it into their own lives.

So the helpful thing for our young people is to prepare them rightly for living in a pagan culture which is done by grounding them in the clear Word of God as evidently Daniel and his friends had been before the exile!

It means understanding God's Word and talking about such practical ramifications as Daniel met in the Culture he was dragged into and the Culture we are born into!

In Christ,

Friday, May 30, 2014

Let's ruminate about gluttony

Derek over at the gospel coalition put up a thoughtful and challenging piece about gluttony last week. make sure you read it.
What is surprising is how such articles or preaching receive such flack. We can preach about sin in general terms such as idolatry. people may even accept a broadside at same sex marriage and the sin of adultery, but gluttony seems to be in a too hard basket. perhaps many preachers are afraid as Derek says because

our pastors have noticed how much closer the pulpit has moved to their own waistlines
Even so, gluttony is listed in 1 Cor 6 as a persistent sin [ habitual ] that prevents one inheriting the Kingdom of God. Even though drunkenness is perhaps put up with being preached, still gluttony seems taboo because defining gluttony seem so subjective.
And that's even without thinking of gluttony as an idol!
Something to chew the cud on eh?