Archive for the ‘Bible Study’ Category

“Finally, let me finish with some reflections by John Stott. The cup, he says, “symbolizes neither the physical pain of being flogged and crucified, nor the mental distress of being despised and rejected even by his own people, but rather the spiritual agony of bearing the sins of the world, in other words, of enduring the divine judgement which those sins deserved. That this is the correct understanding is strongly confirmed by Old Testament usage, for in both the Wisdom literature and the prophets the Lord’s ‘cup’ was a regular symbol of his wrath. A wicked person was said to drink of the wrath of the almighty Job 21:20….“This Old Testament imagery would have been well known to Jesus. He must have recognized the cup he was being offered as containing the wine of God’s wrath, given to the wicked, and causing a complete disorientation of body staggering and mind confusion like drunkenness. Was he to become so identified with sinners as to bear their judgment? From this contact with human sin his sinless soul recoiled. From the experience of alienation from his Father, which the judgment on sin would involve, he hung back in horror.”But he went through with it nonetheless for our sakes. He loved us that much that he endured such horrific agony and pain. Leon Morris offers a fitting summary here:“The Scripture is clear that the wrath of God is visited upon sinners or else that the Son of God dies for them. Either sinners are punished for their misdoings or else there takes place what Hodgson calls ‘that self-punishment which combines the activities of punishing and forgiving’. Either we die or He dies. ‘But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ Rom. 5:8.”

via On Drinking the Cup » Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch.

Isaiah stained glass window at St. Matthew's L...

Isaiah stained glass window at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Charleston, SC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have the wonderful opportunity to lead a church service at an assisted living facility here in Chattanooga once a month. It is my one consistent opportunity to preach God’s Word, and I love the folks there dearly. In light of last week’s moral madness by the Supreme Court, I thought hard about what text to share with the half-dozen senior citizens this month. This is the result. If you would like a much better discussion of Isaiah’s vision, have a listen to Issues, Etc.’s podcast with Lutheran Pastor Tom Baker here.

Isaiah 6

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Isaiah’s Vision

6 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,

“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”

4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.5 Then I said,

“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”

SendMe_titleIsaiah’s Commission

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”


Isaiah’s Vision of the Destruction of Babylon

11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,

“Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people
And the land is utterly desolate,
12 “The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 “Yet there will be a tenth portion in it,
And it will again be subject to burning,
Like a terebinth or an oak
Whose stump remains when it is felled.
The holy seed is its stump.”


First, let’s cover some background. 

From the MacArthur Study Bible, Introduction to Isaiah:
Map of the Levant circa 830 BCE

Map of the Levant circa 830 BCE (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

” Isaiah, son of Amoz, ministered in and around Jerusalem as a prophet to Juda during the reigns of 4 kings of Judah: Uzziah (called “Azariah” in 2 Kings), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (1:1), from ca. 739-686 B.B.” (1.)

“Isaiah was a contemporary of Hosea and Micah.” (2.)

“During Uzziah’s prosperous 52 year reign (ca. 790-739 B.C.), Judah developed into a strong commercial and military state…Yet the period witnessed a decline in Judah’s spiritual status. Uzziah’s downfall resulted from his attempt to assume the privileges of a priest and burn incense on the altar ( 2 Chr. 26:16-19). He was judged with leprosy, from which he never recovered (2 Kin. 15:5; 2 Chron 26:20,21).” (3)


Isaiah’s Vision from Luther’s Bible

From the Lutheran Study Bible

“Isaiah records the longest list of clothing and accessories in all of Scripture (3″6-4:1), which he cites as evidence of Judah’s affluence, idolatry, and growing indifference to God’s Word. As a Jerusalem insider, with access to the king’s court, Isaiah saw firsthand the extravagance, injustice, and spiritual failure of Judah’s leaders. He would witness the lean years during the siege by the Assyrian. He would prophesy Judah’s downfall to the Babylonians. He would see the daughters of Zion in chains but then set free, worshipping the Lord with those who had formerly oppressed them.” (4)

From the NIV  Archaeological Study Bible:

Isaiah wrote during a period of upheaval and general unrest, as the Assyrian Empire was expanding and the northern kingdom of Israel facing decline and imminent disaster. Judah was also vulnerable, although her destruction was ultimately to come at the hands of a later power, Babylonia…it appears that the prophet labored under the conviction-in his mind a foregone conclusion-that the people would reject his message and the nation of Judah would be destroyed (1:9-13). Nevertheless, the prophet still followed through with his duty to warn the people and exhort them to repent… (5)

English: Ozias(Uzziah), King of Judah (809-759...

English: Ozias(Uzziah), King of Judah (809-759 B. C.) son and successor of Amazias. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isaiah faced a difficult task. Prophetically, he saw the destruction of Judah, and the temple. He saw the coming enslavement and deportation of Judah’s inhabitants to Babylon. He also knew his message would go unheeded. That sets the backdrop to this wonderful vision of Adonai enthroned in the Temple.

In verse 1 we have several things going on.

  1. King Uzziah had died. Uzziah had been stricken by leprosy by the Lord for offering incense in the temple (see 2 Chr. 16). Until that time, Uzziah had been a good king. He had military successes against the Philistines, and Arabs. But his pride became his undoing. He had to live a separate and lonely life from that point on. Uzziah was dead. Jotham would be king.
  2. Isaiah saw the Lord.  This is strikingly similar to Rev. 4:1-11, we practically the same results on the prophet. We have to understand that seeing the Lord in a vision is different from seeing the Lord in Person. No one could see God’s face and live (Ex. 33:20). Even Moses had only been permitted to see the Lord from the back (Ex. 33:18-23). Isaiah saw the Lord in a vision. It’s like the difference between watching the Twin Towers fall on 9/11, and actually being there. Ask the people who witnessed that disaster, and see if there’s a difference between seeing an image, and actually experiencing such a thing. Nevertheless, the vision was devastating on Isaiah.
  3. The Lord was sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted. The world Isaiah knew was falling apart around him, but the Lord was still on the Throne. He was still in control, and He was Transcendent and Sovereign. His throne and Temple in Heaven is not subject to the destruction about to come on Jerusalem. This was the Trinity which Isaiah saw, as we shall see later on.

isaiah coal lips
In verse 2, we are introduced to a strange class of angels called Seraphim. They seem to be similar to the 4 living creatures of Rev. 4:6, and the cherubim of Ezek. 10:1ff. “Two wings covered the faces of the seraphim because they dared not gaze directly at God’s glory. Two covered their feet, acknowledging their lowliness even though engaged in divine service. With two they flew in serving the One on the throne. ” (6.) It would seem that when it comes to serving the Lord, we should be doing twice as much praise in His Presence,  as service in His NameIt would also seem that there is protocol in heaven when it comes to worship. There is Awe, there is Reverence, even from these majestic beings, before the Throne of God. How much more should there be protocol, awe, and reverence on earth?

Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910) once said “If one looks at a congregation of professing Christians, engaged in their worship, does not one feel and see that there is often a carelessness and shallowness, a want of realization of the majesty and sanctity and tremendousness of that Father to whom we draw near? “

 In his commentary on Isaiah, John Gill makes the point that these creatures are not unlike the ministers of the Gospel, who says of their covered faces-“…expressive of their modesty and humility, looking, upon themselves as less than the least of all the saints, and the chief of sinners, and as ashamed of themselves before the Lord…”  Of their covered feet he says “…as conscious of their conduct, walk, and conversation, as ministers and Christians.”  He says of their wings for flight …this denotes their readiness and swiftness in preaching the everlasting Gospel, running to and fro with it, having their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace…”(7.) This a little too allegorical for me, but the connection is understandable.
Vision AlternateIn verse 3, the seraphim called out to each other.  They sang in response to one another in antiphony. They cried “Holy, Holy, Holy…” This cry is twofold:
  1. For emphasis. God is separate from His creatures. This cry is called the Trihagion.

  2. Implication of the Trinity. Just as in Gen. 1:26, where God says “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…”, this is another hint of the Trinitarian Being of God.

The seraphim finish their hymn by declaring that the whole earth is full of God’s Glory. When we look at our world, and see the calamities that abound, and the ones we know are near, it’s good to take a moment and “smell the roses”. I know when I get discouraged about the decline of our nation, and Evangelical Christianity, and even my own deteriorating health, a good walk in the Chickamauga Military Park, with its myriads of trails does me wonders. Or, if I’m ambulatory at the moment, a good sit in my hammock in the back yard can have the same effect. The birds sing of God’s glory; the trees lift their solid arms to the heavens of God’s glory; even the clouds above seem to speak to me of the glory of God. But alas, fallen humanity is busy denying God’s glory, to its own detriment, as Romans 1 declares.

Prophet Isaiah, Russian icon from first quarte...

Prophet Isaiah, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post is getting long, so I will continue another day. My sermon was much shorter than this, but I wanted to unpack this chapter over several posts.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA

1. MacArthur, John. “Introduction to Isaiah.”  The MacArthur Study Bible: New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006. Kindle Edition.

2. Ibid.


4. Engelbrecht, Edward A., ed. “Introduction to Isaiah.” The Lutheran Study Bible. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009. Kindle Edition.

5.  “Introduction to Isaiah.” NIV Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk through Biblical History and Culture : New International Version. Ed. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005. Kindle Edition.

6. MacArthur Study Bible, commentary on Is. 6:2.

7. Gill, John. “Commentary on Isaiah.” John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible by John Gill. N.p.: Amazon, 2012. Kindle Edition.

Boxing Gloves Tap to Start the FightConflict Counseling for Jesus and Paul-Part 1

By Eric Adams

We recently had a discussion about contradictions, paradoxes, and mysteries in relation to Biblical hermeneutics at our Bible Study. One of the examples of contradictions brought up was the seeming conflict between Jesus and Paul. That got me thinking…what are these alleged conflicts, and how can we answer them?

Let’s lay our cards on the table. I don’t believe there are any conflicts between Jesus and Paul, but I’ll take it for granted some folks do see a problem. We’ll take these points one at a time. It may take me a few posts to examine most of the important ones. Before we begin, I’ll establish some baselines for our discussion, and I will be honest about my presuppositions as we lay out our prolegomena.

First of all, let’s discuss some of the foundations of Biblical hermeneutics.

  1. Scripture interprets Scripture-The Bible must be interpreted by its’ own claims that it is the inspired Word of God -2 TI 3:16
  2. The Inspiration of Scripture-To say that the whole of Scripture is God-breathed is to say that its’ every word is identical with God’s words.
  3. The Authority of Scripture-Since the Bible is the word of God, it carries with it the very authority of the God who “breathed” it into existence.
  4. The Power of Scripture He 12:1-2
  5. The Rule of Faith-Since the Bible is God’s word to us, it is the authoritative rule for Christian faith and practice.
  6. The Sufficiency of Scripture-The sufficiency of Scripture may be defined as the principle that the Bible contains all things necessary for life and salvation.
  7. The Unity of Scripture-If the Scripture is sufficient for salvation at each stage of redemption history, and if salvation is never by works, but by faith alone in the promises of God, then it must be that the message of the Scripture is unified, centering on the gracious saving work of God in the gospel.
  8. The Necessity of Scripture-Scripture is necessary because God willed to provide it and because mankind’s condition required it. 
  9. The Inerrancy of Scripture-When we say that the Bible is inerrant, we are saying that in the autographs, it is absolutely true in all it affirms and utterly incapable of conveying falsehood or error.
  10. The Clarity of Scripture-When we say that the Bible is clear, we mean that its message can be understood by human beings through the ordinary means of understanding any written communication.

This is the position I will take throughout these posts:

 Since the Bible is the word of God, it carries with it the very authority of the God who “breathed” it into existence. Therefore, the Scripture is inherently authoritative in that it possesses God’s authority even if not a single human being ever recognized that authority. Since the Bible is God’s word to us, it is the authoritative rule for Christian faith and practice. We need nothing more and nothing less than the teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness that comes from Scripture. If the Scripture is sufficient for salvation at each stage of redemption history, and if salvation is never by works, but by faith alone in the promises of God, then it must be that the message of the Scripture is unified, centering on the gracious saving work of God in the gospel. Though God has certainly revealed himself through creation, such knowledge of God through general revelation is not sufficient to give us the knowledge that leads to salvation. It is sufficient to condemn us in our idolatrous unbelief and to leave us without excuse at the judgment; but nothing more. Therefore, Scripture (a special revelation of God) is necessary for a saving knowledge of God. Without it, we would not be able to know God.

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB) “

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Scripture has power to penetrate man’s heart, beget him anew, and transform him into the image of Christ.

With this foundation laid, let’s move on to look at some of the alleged problems between jesus and Paul. I will continue this in Part 2 of this series.

*Much of my discussion so far is historically known as the Doctrine of Scripture. I have been greatly helped in expressing this through a couple of books, and a fine audio series by R.W. Glenn. Here is my bibligraphy to this point:

Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. Print.

Hodge, Charles. Systematic Theology. LaVergne, TN: Nabu, 1876. Print.

Goldsworthy, Graeme. Gospel-centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006. Print.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
Rossville, GA

We all have issues when it comes to personal Bible study. sometimes we’re rushed , and we hurry too much. Sometimes we are too tired, and doze off instead of studying. Sometimes we just don’t want to study. Sometimes , we are too distracted to get anything out of it. Sometimes, we just haven’t honed the necessary skills to do it properly. I’ve been guilty of most of the following at sometime in my life. It takes diligence, and good hermeneutical skills to mine the depths of God’s Word. Let’s double-down, and keep a watch out for bad Bible study habits like these listed by C. Michael Patton:

1. Lucky lotto: (eyes closed) – “Umm . . . I will read this verse”

Often times you may be tempted to simply ask God a question, open up the Bible, fix your eyes on the first verse you see, and think that this is what God said. There is the old story of the depressed man who did this. He opened up his Bible to Matthew 27:5, “He went out and hanged himself.” A bit confused, the man did it again. This time his eyes fell on John 13:27, “What you do, do quickly.” Now, that was not lucky at all.

What you have to understand is that, while inspired, the Bible is not a magic book. God does not speak through it out of context. There is a message that needs to be understood, a context to every passage. Be careful not to practice “lucky lotto” Bible studies.

2. Brussels Sprout: “Do I have to?”

Many people hate to study the Bible like they hate to eat their vegetables. You must find a way to cultivate a love for sitting at the feet of God through Bible study. I know just as well as anyone that Bible study can be long and laborious, especially when you are in certain books that don’t seem to produce much fruit from their labor. But always remember that you have the opportunity to hear from the God of all eternity. Bible study is a privilege. When it becomes a burden, think through your life and commitment to God. I know that it is usually a burden to me on days that I am not quite so sold out to him. But when my life is on track, Bible study is often the best part of my day.

3. Channel Changer: “Let’s read something else”

It is easy to jump from place to place every time you study your Bible. But try to be disciplined to stick to one book at a time. Think about it in relation to the movies. We don’t watch little bits and pieces of dozens of different movies. We start a movie at the beginning and we don’t stop until it is over. This is the way I want you to approach the Bible. Work your way through entire books, becoming completely immersed in what they have to teach, then move on to the next. It is okay to be reading many books at a time, but make sure that you are not always jumping all around, never getting the whole story.

4. Concord: “Watch how fast I can finish”

When I was a kid, I used to feel so guilty about not reading the Bible. My mother taught me about the importance of Bible study and I kept a Bible beside my bed wherever I went. But it was very hard for me to actually read my Bible. I don’t know why. However, when I did guilt myself into reading it, I would always pick the shortest chapter I could find (it usually was found in the Psalms) and blow through it at lightning speed. I wonder what God thought of that. “Okay God, I am ready to listen. Just talk as fast as you can and let’s get this over with.” I seriously doubt he honored me with much insight. The point is to put on the brakes. Read your Bible slowly. Read your Bible carefully. Pray before, during, and after you are done. Just talk to God while you are reading. Talk out loud if you have to. This will make you much more engaged and will produce much more fruit in you study.

5. Baseball card: “I’m very picky”

Some people like certain part of the Bible more than others. If you were to look at my Bible the pages of the “Upper Room Discourse” in John 14-17 will be more worn than any other section. This is because it is so comforting! I love Jesus’ “Do not let your hearts be troubled . . .” stuff. I also don’t like other books too much. For example, the Law can be archaic and boring. The prophets are hard to understand. However, I must discipline myself to be intimately acquainted with the entire Bible. Yes, some things will seem more relevant than others, but God wants us to know the whole story, not just the parts we like. I encourage you to try to go through the entire Bible every year. There are some great Bible reading plans that you can easily access. You can continue to read those passages you love over and over. But make sure you are getting the whole picture.

6. Clint Eastwood: “I don’t need anyone’s help”

We all need help. Bible study is wonderful, but it is tough. Make sure that you lean on many of the great people today and throughout church history to aid you in your studies. Yes, you do have the Holy Spirit in you and you can understand much. But the Holy Spirit works primarily through the community called “the Body of Christ.” This is true in Bible study as well. There are many Bible study aids out there, but the best works you can have are called “commentaries.” These are books from people who have spent their whole life studying the Bible. There are so many good commentaries out there. Once you determine to read a book, find a good commentary to help you through the difficulties that are sure to arise.

7. Magical: “Abracadabra . . . It applies to my life”

Some people call the Bible “God’s Love Letter to You,” but we have to be careful with this. The Bible was not really written to you. The Bible was written to people who lived thousands of years ago, were in a completely different culture, and had very specific needs and problems. Rightly understood, the Bible will often have principles that apply to your life, but these principles must be gleaned by interpreting the Bible through the lens of time. This is why it is so important to understand the context of each and every passage and story. Sometimes it will have direct application to your life, but sometimes it is just God telling you about what happened with no encouragement to follow the examples.

8. Indiana Jones: “Let’s find the hidden meaning”

This is a very dangerous approach. But the Indiana Jones approach to Bible study assumes that there is some hidden meaning that you are trying to mine out. This assumes that we have some sort of secret decoder ring to find layers of truth hidden by God but discernible only to the Christian. We need to be very careful here. While the Bible was written by God, it was not done so with the intent to have secret truth shown only to a select few. It was written to reveal truth to all who will listen! There are no hidden messages in the Bible. Applying the proper study methods will guard you against this often divisive and very subjective approach.

via Eight Ways to Go Wrong in Bible Study | Parchment and Pen.

The good news is this: even if you have been guilty of some, or even most of the above, at least you are attempting what has become a lost art. Love His Word. Fear His Word. Read His Word. Pray His Word. Learn how to properly study His Word.

simul iustus et peccator,
Eric Adams