As a little boy, I was blessed to grow up in the small country of Austria, the land of “Silent Night, Holy Night” and of The Sound of Music. Christmas was truly a special time of the year, and many Christmases were in fact white. My sister and I would leave our wish list for the Christ child on our window sill the night before Christmas (we celebrated on Christmas Eve), and then, on Christmas Eve, behind closed doors, we heard our Christmas tree being set up and decorated by (we surmised) angels. Later that evening, we would enter our living room, and, lo and behold, find most of the... Read More
As we read at the beginning of the book of Acts, the early church was devoted to fellowship, koinōnia (sharing things in common; koinon = common): “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. … And all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:42). The emphasis on fellowship is interesting, because Acts is a book about mission. So we see that in the early church, community was the foundation for the church’s mission.
Community and the Gospel
Later in the book of Acts, we see... Read More
The Bible tells a beautiful, compelling story from creation and the fall to redemption and new creation. But as beautiful and compelling Scripture’s story is, a story doesn’t save you – Christ’s death on the cross does. The gospel is a message grounded in history. It’s not just a fable or a fantasy. It’s historically and factually true.
Having studied the four-part story of the Bible; we therefore now move on to the gospel, the primary resource for our mission. What’s our message?
Understanding our message is vitally important as we embark on mission with God. In order to bear... Read More
There’s often a difference between official Roman Catholic Church dogma and what regular Catholics believe. This is why it’s impossible to read Roman Catholic statements of faith and on that basis alone conclude what most Catholics actually believe and practice. Nevertheless, it’s a good start to look at some of the major Roman Catholic teachings. What do Roman Catholics believe?
The Bible Plus Tradition
First, Roman Catholics essentially hold to the Bible plus tradition as their basic authority. That is, they don’t just believe in the Bible as Protestants or evangelicals do,... Read More
My years as a Ph.D. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School were certainly a very mind-stretching experience. I took classes with D. A. Carson on the use of the OT in the NT, with Doug Moo on the Second Temple period and on the Septuagint, with Grant Osborne on apocalyptic literature, and many more. In these classes, I came to realize that many issues in NT studies are considerably more complex than the average person realizes. In fact, becoming aware of some of these issues can be confusing, even disorienting, and can leave people bewildered, unless they have the necessary scholarly... Read More
A while back, I contributed a chapter entitled “The Gospel for All Nations” to a book called Faith Comes by Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism (edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (InterVarsity). Here are my five concluding observations:
1. Divine, not human: The gospel is God’s saving message to a world living in darkness and a humanity lost in its sin. The gospel is not a human message, nor was its conception a function of human initiative, but its origin and its impetus derive solely from God. For this reason our role with regard to the gospel is not that of... Read More
In my BECNT commentary on John’s Gospel, I propose that John follows a chronological arrangement in his Gospel. The specific dates listed below are predicated upon a A.D. 33 date for [tag]Jesus[/tag]’ crucifixion. As is well known, the two major possibilities for the crucifixion are A.D. 30 (the traditional date) and A.D. 33. Harold Hohner, among others, in Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ and in his Dictionary of Jesus & the Gospels entry on chronology, has set forth (in my view) highly persuasive arguments for the latter, A.D. 33, date, including the fact that Luke’s... Read More
The release of the text of the so-called “Gospel of Judas” has been reported with considerable enthusiasm by the media. At the center of this gospel is Judas Iscariot, known from the biblical Gospels as the betrayer of Judas. Yet from the Gospel of Judas, a different figure emerges. In private conversation, Jesus tells Judas he will share with him alone “the mysteries of the kingdom” and asks him to hand him over to the authorities so that his body can be sacrificed. Why would Jesus want to be betrayed and crucified?
The answer is found in another enigmatic statement in the... Read More
Who wrote John’s Gospel? James Charlesworth says, “The apostle Thomas.” Ben Witherington believes it was Lazarus. And Esther de Boer contends the author of John’s Gospel was Mary Magdalene! Many others believe the author was in fact a committee of unknown authors, editors, and redactors—the Johannine community. The traditional view of the Church has been that this is the “Gospel according to John,” John the apostle, that is, as in John the son of Zebedee. How can reputable scholars dealing with the same evidence come to such drastically different conclusions? And where does the... Read More