Thursday, January 12, 2017

Interpreting Revelation and the End-Times

How should we understand the book of Revelation and end-times prophecy?

When you talk about doing Bible Study and how one interprets the Bible, one of the common questions you will encounter – both from believers and non-Christians – will be what about the book of Revelation? How are we to understand all the prophecies concerning the apocalypse, the return of Christ and final judgment? What I want to do in this video is give a basic primer on the basic terms you will encounter when discussion end-times theology.

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A futurist will interpret the end-times as being future events.
A preterist will argue that texts such as the Book of Revelation are not so much prophecies foretelling future events, but rather are FORTHTELLINGS of present and past events that the original readers would have already been familiar with in their own cultural contexts as occurring within their own time frame.

Example: In Luke 21, Jesus talks about the desolation of Jerusalem. A Futurist may take this to mean the nation of Israel established in the Palestine region post-WW2 will come under attack. The Preterist will argue that it refers to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD by the Romans.

THE TRIBULATION: The time when the church undergoes an all-out assault by Satan’s minions.

THE MILLENIUM: Once the Tribulation is over, the [earthly] time when sin, Satan and Death are defeated.
Pre-millennials believe that Jesus’ return will mark the beginning of the Millenium.
Post-millenials believe that Jesus will return at the end of it (i.e., the Church brings about Jesus’ return).

THE RAPTURE: When God takes all believers (dead and currently alive) to heaven to live with Christ forever.

Dispensationalists argue that the Biblical Covenants (Abrahamic > Mosaic > Davidic > The New Covenant) are TRANSITIONAL in terms of time, conditions and promises.
Covenant Theology argues that the Covenants are PROGRESSIVE (Redemption, works, Grace), hence the cautions and promises of one covenant are not necessarily boxed into “that was Old Testament, we’re in the New” (e.g., we partake of the New Covenant, the Gospel, via grace through justification by faith. Yet who does the Bible use as the model for Justification by Faith? Abraham.)


Israel certainly factors into the end-times. “All of Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
Since the over-arching theme of Romans 9-11 is "What is God going to do with the Jews now that Christ has come?"
The question is “Who is ‘Israel’?”
a) The nation-state of Israel?
b) Ethnic Jews?
c) Believers in Judaism?
d) Jewish Christians aka Messianic Jews
e) God’s people overall?

Dispensationalists believe that because the biblical covenants are transitional, ISRAEL and THE CHURCH are therefore two separate and distinct entities. God’s plan and relationship with one is not the same as the other. E.g, in the book of Revelation, the church appears in Chapters 1-3, then in Chapter 22. What happens in between? The focus turns to Israel.
Covenant Theology advocates REPLACEMENT; the Church replaces Israel as God’s chosen people, and thus receives and partake of all the blessing, warning and promises.

Now some would say: What’s all the point of this? There are individuals as well as ministries who devote hours or tuime, money and resources trying to interpret how the end-times will play out. Books have been written, movies have been made. And very often when people try to make precise predictions, they tend to be embarrassingly wrong as the world’s events play out.
If there is a critical flaw in the Futurist interpretation of Revelation, it would be that it does open the door to a slippery slope where a theologian who usually excels in exegetical study gets sloppy and finds themselves they trying to read things into the text based on whatever they see in today’s headlines.

Regardless of how you interpret Revelation and the End times, it’s important to take heed of the words of the Apostle Peter:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, butthat all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

2 Peter 3:9-14

How is your view of the end-times impacting what you’re doing now, today? Are you living a holy, godly life? Can you say that when Jesus returns on the Day of the Lord you will be found without blemish and at peace? 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

6 Must-Have Bible study tools

So in my last video I talked about basic rules for your personal Bible Study. What I want to do in this video is to walk you through some must-have tools and resources to give you the cutting edge in rightly handling God’s word.

1. Commentaries

Bible commentaries aid in the study of Scripture by providing explanation and interpretation of Biblical text. Whether you are just beginning to read Scripture or have been studying the Bible daily, commentaries offer greater understanding with background information on authorship, history, setting, and theme.

2. Concordances

A concordance is a listing of words and phrases found in Bible and shows where the terms occur throughout all books of Scripture. With cross-references for verses, concordances make it easy to understand the meaning of terms and the context in which those words are used.

Suggested resource:
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is the most widely known and popular and includes Greek and Hebrew dictionaries for a better understanding of the original meaning.

3. Dictionaries and Lexicons

Lexicons provide definitions and meaning of Biblical words found in the original New Testament Greek and Old Testament Hebrew languages of the Holy Bible.
They provide a concise meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek words, often providing Bible verse references as examples. If there are several Greek words that may translate to the same English word, the Lexicon will distinguish the connotation that may be lost in the English translation. This helps in understanding the origins and root meaning of the ancient language. Additionally, lexicons give the context and cultural meaning intended by the authors.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testaments

4. Systematic Theologies

A Systematic theology will outline essential Christian Doctrines based on how they are presented throughout the entirety of Scripture from Genesis through to Revelation. Now just like a commentary, Systematic Theologies will of course lean in favour to the views and opinions of the scholar, so it may be a good idea to grab a few different ones just so you get a balanced perspective.

My recommendations:

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
Know the Truth by Bruce Milne
Pilgrim Theology by Michael Horton

6. Study Bibles

A good study bible will include the standard Bible text, as well as tools such as commentary, maps, an index and a brief theology overview. Now in today’s technological age, you can get a study Bible either in hardcopy format, or you can purchase it as an app from iTunes or Google Play.

My weapon of Choice: The ESV Study Bible

Which brings me to my last and most versatile tool:

6. Bible Study software

Now lets be honest: having all these thick, hardcover books on your shelf in your living room on display will command instant respect and just screams “hardcore nerd.”

But let’s also be practical: what if you’re on the move and you still want to have these tools on hand when you need them?
Answer – go digital with Bible software. You just open the app on your tablet of computer’s desktop, and there you go – instant access to all of your Bible translations, commentaries, dictionaries at the click of a button.

Now the price of the various packages and what they contain will vary. On one end of the scale you have E-Sword which you can download for free and will give you all of the above resources mentioned with the option of purchasing additional modules should you choose.
On the other end you have Logos 7, whose starter Library package will set you back $135, though for the full portfolio you will spend as much as $4000. As one who uses the Logos starter pack, I will say that you definitely get what you pay for, and with their new cloud feature, you have the added plus of downloading any content you already purchased in the event of your computer’s hard drive getting wiped.

So whether you decide to go with hard copy or digital, these tools will surely up your game and uncover those treasures in your studies.
So have fun, and I look forward to talking to you soon!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

How to read the Bible Properly

So you’ve picked up a Bible either from church or the bookstore – and you don’t know where to start, how to read it properly, what applies to you, what doesn’t. I say: don’t panic – this video is for you.

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When reading the Bible, I use a four step process:

S-O-A-P or simply, S.O.A.P.

Step 1: Identify the
What is the text that you’re studying? Have a basic read-through

Step 2: Make
1. What is the historical context? – Who wrote the text? Where did they write it? When was it written? What is going on in the word around them?

2. What is the genre? Is it a narrative? A poem? Prophecy? Teaching? A letter? The Bible isn’t written in a single style of writing, so you have to be able to recognize the format.

3. Who’s involved? Who are the major characters within the text?

4. How is God described? What are the theological themes that describe the nature of God?

5. Old Testament or New? When reading an Old Testament passage, does the revelation of the New Testament and what Jesus did on the cross change our understanding?

6. How is the writing arranged? Are there certain words or phrases that are either repeated or emphasized? How does the author’s use of a certain term apply in other passages related to the text we’re studying?

Apply the Principles
 Build the Bridge

1. Grasp the text on their turf. What did the text mean to the original audience?

2. Measure the width of the gap to cross. What are the differences (Time, culture, language, covenant) between the biblical audience and us?

3. Cross the Bridge. What are the underlying principles (theological, moral, etc.) that are not limited to time and culture?

4. Bring the text home. How should we as Christians apply the principles in our lives today?

Commit what you have learned before God in prayer, thanking him for what you have learned and asking that he give you the grace to live it out.

Common mistakes to avoid:

1. Inductive vs Deductive.

Inductive: Examining data to make a conclusion and deriving the resulting application 
Deductive: Having a pre-conceived application and then picking out the evidences to support it.

If one approaches a text with an intended application in mind before actually taking the time to observe the Historical-Grammatical contexts to see whether the text will even allow for such an application, they can only be expected to misinterpret and misapply the scriptures.

2. Authorial Intent vs Reader response

Reader Response: “This is what I feel the text is saying to me personally…”
Authorial Intent: What did the author – under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – actually intend to convey?

Simply put, if a text doesn’t say it, the text cannot mean it.

3. Don’t overcomplicate the text

In our zeal for spiritual knowledge, it is all-too-easy to fall into the trap of over-spiritualizing a text to make it seem more complicated and profound that what it actually is.

4. Never read a single verse on it’s own!

Let me tell you a story: You have a man and woman who have been happily married, both go to church on Sunday. The husband discovers that his wife has actually been having an extra-marital affair with another man. So the husband arranges a counseling session with their pastor, who is very straitforward in telling the wife: “You know that what you’re doing is wrong and your husband is heartbroken. Why are you doing this?”
The wife says bodly: “I’m allowed to do this, the Bible says so!”
The pastor smiled and rolled his eyes. “Oh really? Where in the Bible?”
The wife replied: “Ephesians 4 says we are to ‘put on the new man’!”

When reading a verse, read it in context of it’s parent chapter; read the chapter in context of the book; and read a book in context of the entirety of scripture.

This is just a short summary, but trust me when I say that it’s not complicated. If you want something that goes a bit more in depth that you can either watch at home or with your friends in a small group Bible Study, may I recommend the DVD “Herman Who” by Todd Friel. There’ll be a link in the description below.

In my next video I’ll be showing you some of the tools you can use to get the extra edge in getting the most out of your Bible Study.
See you soon.