Bible

Free Online Bible Training (College and Seminary Level)

What a great age we live in where you can take courses online for free that most Bible students in a Christian college or seminary students would be taking? And all the below classes I will reference are FREE!

How about taking Biblical eldership with John Piper?

How about taking Christian ethics with John Feinberg?

How about taking expository preaching with John MacArthur and Steve Lawson?

How about taking Greek with Bill Mounce?

How about taking the life of Christ with Darrell Bock?

How about taking marriage and family counseling with John Street?

How about taking systematic theology with Bruce Ware?

All of these class and so many more are available for FREE! Just click on any of the above links and you will either end up at Biblicaltraining.org or Theologicalresources.org.

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Q/A Friday: Is There Profit in Reading and Teaching the Genealogies in the Bible?

The quick and easy answer is that all Scripture – including lists of names – is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16-17), but I am assuming the reader who posed the question is looking for more than this.

Here are three additional reasons it is profitable to study, read, and preach genealogies

  1. Genealogies show continuity throughout history. They are a record of actual people living in actual time. Genealogies help bolster the historicity of the Bible.
  2. Genealogies can confirm prophecy. For example, we are told numerous times in the O.T. that the Messiah would come from David’s line (Isaiah 11:1), and when we read the genealogies of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38), that connection to David is verified.
  3. Genealogies show God’s love and salvation of all kinds of peoples. Sometimes genealogies are just lists of both Christian and non-Christians, but a geneaology for Jesus will also show that it wasn’t just Jews in his line, but Gentiles that he also chose to save (e.g., Ruth a Moabite, Rahab a prostitute).

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or post your question in the comments section.

Q/A Friday: What Is the Purpose of the Book of Leviticus For Us Today?

Leviticus was the book usually studied first by the Jewish child, and yet, Leviticus can be an unpopular or boring book and the least read of all books in the Bible for several reasons:

  • The sacrificial system presented in the Book is no longer relevant.
  • The priesthood in the Book is no longer in existence.
  • Most of the laws in the Book are no longer binding.

Thus, the practical relevancy of this book is difficult to find. But the N.T. references the Book of Leviticus about 40x, which should demonstrate to us it’s significance.

The bottom line is this: it is inspired by God. II Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” No other book in the Bible affirms its own inspiration more than Leviticus, because on thirty-eight occasions God is recorded as speaking to Moses!

What you need to keep in mind about Leviticus is that what God was trying to accomplish with His people is the idea of being set apart from the pagan nations around them – “But I have said to you, ‘You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples” (Leviticus 20:24).

The word “holy” meant “to cut” or “to set apart.” When God gave them specific instructions about animals they could or couldn’t eat, He was simply giving them a different diet from the pagans. When God gave them instructions on how to cleanse themselves for worship, He was teaching them an uncommon reverence not held by other pagan peoples. He wanted his people to be set apart – to be holy. He wanted other nations to eve be curious why the people of Israel lived differently.

John MacArthur has written, “Rather than try to practice the old ceremonies or look for some deeper spiritual significance to them, the focus should be on the holy and divine character behind them. This may partly be the reason that the explanations which Moses often gave in the prescriptions for cleanness offer great insight into the mind of God than do the ceremonies themselves. The spiritual principles in which the rituals were rooted are timeless because they are embedded in the nature of God.” (MacArthur Bible Commentary, pg. 135)

Peter capitalized on the theme of holiness in Leviticus and quotes directly from Leviticus 20:26 when he wrote, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (I Peter 1:14-16).

Thus, the purpose of the Book of Leviticus is simple: to inform the people of God of the importance and practice of being holy in an unholy world.

The world “holiness” is mentioned over 90x. The Book of Leviticus is a handbook on holy living, and its key verse most certainly is Leviticus 20:26 – “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or post your question in the comments section.

Q/A Friday: Is the O.T. Still Relevant Today?

The O.T. matters greatly today, it mattered greatly when it was first revealed and it will matter for eternity because the psalmist wrote, “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89). Peter echoes this word to the attribute of the O.T. being eternal when he wrote, “The word of the Lord remains forever” (I Peter 1:25). Yes, the O.T. is relevant today, and here are some specific reasons that is the case.

First, the O.T. was inspired by God. The most central passage in the Bible on this claim is II Timothy 3:16-17 when Paul is about to encourage his young disciple Timothy to preach the Word, and he reminds him why he can boldly proclaim God’s Word. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17). The word “Scripture” refers to anything revealed from God – no matter if it has come or not. And Timothy would have no problem concluding the O.T. was a part of that revealed will of God inspired by Him.

Another text that shows us the inspiration of the O.T. comes from the opening verses of Hebrews. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets (the O.T.), but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (the N.T.), whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrew 1:1-2). It took almost 2,000 years for the O.T. to be written and for the entire two millennia, God was speaking. No matter if it was through the poetry of the psalms, the prophecy of the Major and Minor Prophets or the history of Kings and Chronicles, God revealed His will through the inspiring of the O.T.

Second, Jesus Christ confirmed the relevancy of the O.T. In the Gospels, when Jesus asked the question to the religious leaders, “Have you not read”, He was referring to the O.T. In Luke 24:25, Jesus condemned these same men for not believing what the prophets spoke to them about. His concern was that by avoiding the O.T. prophets, they were not listening to God.

In Matthew 5:17, He confirmed the relevance of the O.T. when He said He came to fulfill the law and not destroy it. He came to give the O.T. a richer and fuller meaning to us – NOT to say, “You know what? Just pay attention to Matthew through Revelation. That’s where the good stuff is.”

In the narrative regarding His temptation by Satan, Jesus shows practically how relevant the O.T. is, because with every temptation, He not only quoted Scripture (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) as a weapon to fight sin, but He quoted from the book of Deuteronomy. When you read the 39 books of the O.T., you are reading Jesus’ Bible. He would nourish His soul with Genesis through Malachi.

Third, the O.T. paves the way for the N.T. Without the message of the O.T., you cannot understand the significance of many subjects in the N.T. (e.g., the need for a sacrificial system, the insufficiency of anyone or anything’s blood, the system of covenant, etc.). Gleason Archer asks a needed question – “How can Christian pastors feed their flock on a well-balanced spiritual diet if they completely neglect the 39 books of Holy Scripture on which Christ and all the New Testament authors received their own spiritual nourishment?” Over 1600 references to the O.T. can be found in the N.T.!

Fourth, the O.T. has transformed people’s lives from slaves of sin to righteousness. As John MacArthur has said, the Bible is the only book that can change your nature. The O.T. can set the stage for a person’s literal salvation. When Paul told Timothy that the Holy Scripture was able to make him wise for salvation, he was referring to the O.T. (II Timothy 3:15). Here is what the psalmist said about this ability of transformation in Psalm 1119:97-104 – “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.”

The O.T. gives wisdom to the fool; the O.T. gives understanding to the ignorant; the O.T. leads the aimless; the O.T. nourishes the hungry; the O.T. gives life to the dead man.

Is the O.T. still relevant? Inside and out! Why else would God give us the O.T. as 60% of our Bible?

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or post your question in the comments section.

Obscure Faithfulness Is Not Just Okay; Maybe It’s Common

Since early February, I have been preaching a biographical series on the 12 disciples at my home church in Wichita, KS. We have been sketching their lives throughout the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles when able. I have used such resources as William Barclay’s The Master’s Men, A.B. Bruce’s The Training of the Twelve, and John MacArthur’s Twelve Ordinary Men.

Early on, it wasn’t too challenging to gather enough preaching material for disciples like Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip and Nathanael.

My next sermon will overview Thomas, who supplies a fair amount of preaching material in the Gospel of John and from there I will preach about Matthew, who also has plenty of narrative ground to cover in the Gospel he penned. So, that is 8 of the 12 disciples.

Other than 1 of the remaining 4 disciples – Judas Iscariot – the other 3 are as obscure as they get: James the less (or the little), James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus (or Lebbaeus or Judas, son of James), and Simon the Zealot.

So, here are the questions I will attempt to deal with in today’s post: if these 12 men are the early leaders of the church who lead the initial charge of spreading the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) and will one day rule from thrones in heaven (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; Revelation 21:14), why do we know very little about 3 of them? Shouldn’t all of them get equal treatment from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? It seems from the reading the Gospels that Jesus only really needed 9 disciples.

In short, I don’t know the answer to these questions, because the Bible does not supply it. But, I will speculate.

Could it be that they aren’t referred to much because they were ordinary? It is true that each of these disciples were ordinary, because they were uneducated simple-minded men who came from small towns and embraced blue-collar vocations. But at least 9 of the disciples might have reached “celebrity status” in the early church.

But the reality of the universal church is that most of us pastors are ordinary. Most pastors in the U.S.A. lead congregations of 100 or less. Most of us will never know each other, because most of us won’t write best-selling books, have blog or video posts that go viral, or speak at national conferences.

Perhaps God didn’t want to set an expectation that all of us need to selfishly aspire to be Peter, James or John. Perhaps we need to be content with being faithfully obscure like James the less, Simon the Zealot, and Thaddeus.

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John Piper, On Posing Questions of the Bible

“Amazing things happen when you form the rigorous habit of querying the text – when you aggressively ask questions to yourself and to the text. Little by little, thread by thread, you begin to see the intricately woven fabric of God’s revelation. Over time you will be changed.

  • You become a Sherlock tracking down clues with ever greater excitement as the plot of the passage thickens.
  • You become a lover wanting to see and savor more and more of the message your God has sent you.
  • You become your own cross-examining attorney forcing yourself to answer the questions others may ask you.
  • You become a tree planted by living streams, and you find yourself growing and becoming strong.
  • You become a teacher ready with questions and answers for others who want to discover with you.
  • You become a new person according to the truth laid down in 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘Beholding the glory of the Lord [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.’
  • You become a worshiper moving ever closer to the white-hot intensity we will know when we see face-to-face and know even as we are known.

Aggressive attentiveness, expressed in habitual and humble questions, with zealous efforts to answer them from the text itself, will bear more fruit than you ever dreamed.” (John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally)

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Charles Manson’s Hermeneutics and Sound Exegesis

 

I have accepted a challenge (along with some friends here in Wichita) from the Wichita Public Library to read 1 book a month in 2018. I usually read more than that each month, but the reason I accepted the challenge is because each month, we are supposed to read a different genre of writing. None of the prescribed genres are religious in nature; so, I decided to expand my reading intake this year and read books outside of my preferred style.
The 1st month, we were given the category of any book that you could check out in the library, and I read a biography of Wyatt Earp, the 1st Police Chief of Wichita – my hometown. This month, we were given the assignment of reading a detective novel or a true crime book, and I am reading Helter Skelter, which is a re-telling of the murders orchestrated by Charles Manson.
The evil of Manson is almost unparalleled. This delusional, murder-loving cult leader died on November 19 of last year. Manson claimed to be responsible for dozens of murders in the 1960’s, but he was only convicted of the murders of 7.
Manson was a unique example of evil. He manipulated others to do his evil bidding. He committed sodomy, homosexuality, fornication, and adultery. He was a drug user and abuser.
But, one of the worst of despicable acts was using Scripture for his own purposes. At times, Manson thought he could be the Messiah, and his abuse of Revelation 9 shows just how far he was willing to go to use Scripture for his own evil purposes.
Manson believed Revelation 9 was prophetically significant for him and the Beatles. He believed the Beatles to be the 4 angels in Revelation 9 and he the 5th angel in Revelation. He believed the Beatles were communicating to him through their music to carry out “helter skelter” on the world. To Manson, the bottomless pit represented the past obscurity held by the Beatles before their stardom. To Manson, the feminine-like hair represented the long hair of he and the Beatles. To Manson, the fire and brimstone coming from their mouths represented the lyrics of the Beatles’ songs. To Manson, the breastplate of fire represented their guitars.”The bottomless pit” – the Beatles past obscurity
  • “Hair as the hair of women” – long-haired musicians
  • “fire and brimstone from their mouths” – the lyrics
  • “breastplate of fire” – their guitars
The point of all this? When you have an agenda and look for that agenda in Scripture, you will mis-fire on your interpretation. You will read into the text, which is what is called eisegesis.
How can we avoid reading into Scripture meaning that is not there?
  • If you want to interpret Scripture correctly, let context drive the meaning. Most interpretive questions can be solved by considering the context in which they are written.
  • If you want to interpret Scripture, don’t spiritualize the text. Prioritize a text’s literal, straightforward meaning.
  • If you want to interpret Scripture correctly, don’t be afraid to consult others to test your interpretation. God has given a plethora of resources that have been written throughout church history to give us perspective and help to better understand His Word. Use helps.
  • If you want to interpret Scripture correctly, don’t be lazy. Commit yourself to “stay in the chair” until the meaning makes sense and fits the context. Truth does not reveal itself to the lazy student.
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