Archive for January, 2012

Paul’s Disputes with the Jews

Paul’s instruction to Timothy (2 Tim 2:24) not to “strive” in conducting his teaching seems to run against his own example in Acts. Let’s consider two sets of passages, marked by two different Greek words.

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How should we “Contend for the Faith”?

“The servant of the Lord must not strive.” When I first began to consider the implications of 2 Tim 2:24 to debate as a mode of teaching, I immediately thought of Jude’s exhortation to his readers:

Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Doesn’t this exhortation imply that we should boldly confront those who teach error?
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Should Believers Debate?

A prominent feature of the current evangelical landscape is the popularity of debate as a mode of teaching. Some popular teachers, including Dave Hunt and James White, often engage in debates, sometimes with unbelievers, and at other times with those they would acknowledge to be Christians. The debate format is increasingly common as a means of interchange between believers and Muslims.

A lively debate seems a natural way of engaging people’s attention. The entire sports industry is based on the natural attraction of a good fight between skilled adversaries. Isn’t it wonderful that we can take advantage of this inborn interest to draw attention to the truth of God’s word?

Or is it? Just because something seems natural doesn’t make it right. Our natural state is dead in trespasses and sins, and many of our instincts require revision by the Spirit as we grow in Christ. Some exhortations in Scripture suggest that believers ought to be more cautious about engaging in, or promoting, staged controversies on spiritual subjects.

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“Sound Doctrine” and “Health Food”

The notion of Scripture as food lends new insight to the description of teaching as “sound” or “wholesome” that appears frequently in  Timothy and Titus. Let’s consider this expression a bit more closely.

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How Shepherds Feed the Flock

In a previous post, I introduced the metaphor of food that Scripture uses for itself. One manifestation of this metaphor is the use of language appropriate to shepherds in describing teachers in the church.
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Have you eaten your Bible today?

The Bible uses many word pictures to describe itself. It is (among other things) God’s law, which tells us what he expects of us; his precepts, which guide us to prosperity; and his counsels, which teach us wisdom. A particularly common metaphor describes the word of God as food. This imagery sheds some important light on how we engage with it.

This topic is too large for a single post. In this one, we’ll look at summarize passages where the Bible calls itself food. Later posts will discuss  the “shepherd” vocabulary that describes teachers in assemblies of the saints, how this metaphor explains the meaning of the phrase  “sound doctrine,” and  the “spiritual physiology” by which spiritual food leads to spiritual growth.

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Do You Know Jesus?

It is commonplace among evangelicals to use the phrase “knowing Jesus” as a synonym for “being saved.” Recently, I’ve been challenged by some NT passages to think more carefully about what it really means to know the Lord Jesus. It’s a wonderful thing to pass from death into life, but there’s evidence that knowing our Savior means much, much more.

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