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9 years 5 months ago

Though I am not a preacher, I decided to read Rediscovering Expository Preaching in an attempt to discover exactly what expository preaching is and compare it to the type of teaching practiced in most modern churches. That this book was written by John MacArthur and the faculty of Master’s seminary is a strong endorsement of its value, for that institution is known as being one that upholds the value of expositional teaching. I hoped also that I would learn some techniques and disciplines that would enrich my personal Bible study as well as my writing. I was not disappointed.

Effective exposition of the Bible requires four steps and each of these receives careful analysis in this book. The steps are:

  • Personal preparation. This involves ensuring that the expositor is walking with the Lord. He must be dedicated to studying the Word and to prayer as well as other spiritual disciplines. Proper exposition cannot be done apart from the Spirit who alone can illumine the text.
  • Processing the Biblical text. This involves using study tools, engaging in hermeneutics and exegesis and generally drawing the meaning from the text in a biblical manner.
  • Pulling the message together. This involves determining the central ideas of a text and drawing up an outline. It involves an effective introduction and conclusion and moving from exegesis to exposition.
  • Preaching the exposition. This involves actually delivering the message in an effective manner.

Each of these steps is explained in sufficient, though not burdensome detail. Nine authors combined to write the nineteen chapters, and while some are more effective communicators than others, each does a good job of handling his topic.

While this book is clearly aimed at the aspiring pastor or to pastors who are attempting to make their messages expository, there is still value in reading it for people who are not pastors. Many of the principles of hermeneutics and exegesis are important for all believers to understand thoroughly in order to effectively interpret and apply the Word of God. While not all of the information will pertain to these readers, those parts can be passed over without losing the value of the book.

I recommend this book for the targeted audience (pastors and aspiring pastors) but also for lay people who are interested in learning Biblical methods of hermeneutics and exegesis. That being said, there are other options that may be better-suited for these people, such as How To Interpret the Bible For Yourself by Richard Mayhue.

9 years 7 months ago

At the conference I attended this weekend, I heard the powerful testimony of Richard Ganz as he gave his reflections on thirty years of Jewish evangelism. Richard is Jewish, and was at one time not only a practicing Jew, but a very strictly practicing Jew. His testimony caused me to think about some verses from the book of Acts. But first, the relevant parts of Ganz’s testimony which I found here.

The next few days were interesting. They were full of religious discussion. But as a man with no sense of God, seeing myself as a chance accumulation of molecules in an absurd and meaningless world, I listened and talked to these people, questioning and mocking their beliefs. Then one day a man asked me if he could read something from the Bible to me. I consented, and this is what he read.

Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high. Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; so shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider.

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

I’d heard that expression “Man of sorrows” and “acquainted with grief” before, though I wasn’t sure where. But at that point I suddenly understood what was happening: they were reading to me about Jesus. I thought, Do they know what they are doing, reading this Christian stuff to a Jew? But I told myself to be patient.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions…

Images of Renaissance paintings leapt to my mind. I wasn’t an ordinary Jewish guy; I had a doctorate; I was cultured; I’d seen paintings with crosses; I knew that their guy had been pierced. They were trying to read me stories about Jesus and I felt the anger rising in me.

…He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all…

Jesus just bore your sins! I couldn’t stand it. That was just a cheap way out of long term psychoanalysis. What they were telling me was “the Catholic way.” From the age of seven, when I had walked into a Catholic church, I thought Jesus was a Catholic; Scandinavian, perhaps, very delicate, tall, thin—slightly anorexic—with long silken blond hair and piercing blue eyes. I had got as far as the vestibule of the church, looked at one of the statues and thought that the ground was going to open up and swallow me; that I was unalterably damned for having done that, and I ran eight blocks home to get away from what I considered an unpardonable sin.

…He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked—but with the rich at His death…

I remembered pictures of Jesus on the cross and the two thieves, one on either side of him. Three crosses—I knew that stuff; they weren’t going to fool me with their rhetoric.

…but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days…

There was the myth about the resurrection. They get it into all their literature, don’t they. They can’t accept the fact that once a person is dead, he’s dead. Grow up! Put away your infantile neuroses and realize that when you’re dead, you’re dead; that’s it.

…He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

When he finished reading, he looked at me and said, “What do you think?”

I was, of course, keen to give the benefit of my insights. They were obviously quoting to me from their New Testament and I responded without a moment’s hesitation: “Anyone who was there at that cross could have written that stuff! What does that prove?”

He handed me the Bible and in a millisecond of receiving it, my life was changed. The name that I saw at the top of the page was Isaiah! They had been reading from my Bible, my Hebrew Scriptures, and I felt as though someone had taken a sword and cut me to pieces. When the man who read it told me it was written 700 years before Jesus was born, I felt dead. Why couldn’t it be Krishna? Why couldn’t it be Buddha? Why does it have to be him? I knew at that instant that if Jesus wrote history about himself in my Bible—if the Gentile God was the Jewish God and he was truly God—then I had to submit everything to him for the rest of my life.

The very instant Ganz saw the word “Isaiah” at the top of the book, his life was changed forever. He immediately came to understand who Jesus was, and that Jesus was spoken about in his Jewish Scriptures. The Spirit illuminated the words from Isaiah so suddenly he saw Jesus as the object of all this prophesy.

Knowing that this knowledge has changed his life and realizing that his Jewish Scriptures pointed to Jesus as the final sacrifice and the one these Scriptures spoke about, he assumed that this knowledge would do to other Jews what it had done to him. He immediately set about sharing these verses with other Jews, thinking they would be changed as quickly and completely as he was. It came as a shock to him that this did not happen. Though God was gracious to reach a few in the same way He had reached Rich, far more rejected Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecy. The same words that God used to break through Rich’s hardness did nothing but further condemn others.

Now consider the testimony of another Jewish man who came to a sudden realization of just who Jesus was and finally saw Him as the fulfillment of the Scriptures that had for so long been part of his life. To do that we can turn to Acts 2 and read about the apostle Peter. In Acts 2 he has gathered a large crowd of Jews who were in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover and preaches to them, explaining who Jesus was and how they sent their long-awaited Messiah to His death. We read that they were “cut to the heart” and that three thousand of them were saved that day.

I am sure Peter was thrilled to see thousands of people saved on a single day. But at the same time, I suspect he was disappointed. After all, he probably assumed that the knowledge which had so changed his life, would change every other Jew. Just as Ganz thought that Isaiah 53 would work the same way in the hearts of his fellow Jews as it had worked in his, I’m sure Peter saw the case for Christ as being completely irrefutable and thought it would save the entire Jewish nation. But it was not to be. God had chosen some who would respond, but many more would simply walk away, unaffected by the evidence, as great as it was.

In a sense I think each of us assumes that what has worked for us will work for others. The evidence is so solid in our minds that we simply can’t understand how others can doubt it. Yet God uses different ways to reach different people. The core message must be the same – that Jesus Christ died to save sinners like us. But the means God chooses to have that message reach us, to break through the stone walls of our hearts, varies from person to person, from heart to heart.

9 years 10 months ago

I sometimes wonder how many people really “get it.” How many people who profess Christ really, truly understand what the Christian life is all about. We love to use little catch-phrases like “I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ” but what does that really mean to us? How many people had personal relationships with Jesus while He walked this earth, yet never came to believe in Him? Perhaps that choice of words detracts from the real thing.

I am generally unimpressed when I hear people say they have a relationship with Jesus. What really does impress me is when people exhibit faith and repentance in their lives.

And so I ask, how many people who claim to be Christians really exhibit the qualities of a Christian in their lives? Do we see them repenting of their past behaviour and growing in grace? Do we see them seeking to learn more about their Saviour and striving to be more like Him?

I think we set our standards low. We have learned to expect so little of ourselves and so little of others and have taken Christ’s words that we are not to judge others to allow us to display such ignorance. We have allowed a mere profession to determine in our minds who is a believer and who isn’t, despite mountains of evidence that might contradict this profession. I think of Alice Cooper - a man who professes Christ, yet continues in the behaviour that earned him such notoriety in decades past. Sure he seems like a nice guy, but so much of his behaviour is not just unscriptural but anti-scriptural! Does his life show evidence of Christ? I saw an interview with him a few days ago where he mentioned that he became a Christian over 20 years ago. That means for the past twenty years he has been deliberately acting like an unbeliever while professing Christ. What gives?

Ultimately salvation is between an individual and God. We can never be absolutely certain about another person’s eternal destiny. Yet I believe we are free to assume based on the evidence we see. Where the evidence continually contradicts the profession, why should I force myself to believe that the person is a believer?

10 years 2 weeks ago

Richard Mayhue is Dean of Studies at the Master’s Seminary and has sufficient credibility to write a volume about how to properly interpret the Bible. Writing in a simple and straightforward manner, he describes the process of “cutting it straight,” a term he borrows from Paul’s message to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15. Though the passage is most often translated “handling accurately the word of truth” the literal sense is “cutting it straight.” This book is thus divided into three sections. The first deals with how to make straight cuts, the second with avoiding crooked cuts, and the third with living out your cuts.

In the first several chapters Mayhue lays out the proper methods for studying Scripture. He speaks about presuppositions, methodology and rules for interpretation. A significant portion of the section is devoted to recommended study tools – concordances, dictionaries, commentaries and so on.

The bulk of the book contains rules to avoid making poor cuts. In other words, the author discusses many of the common errors in interpretation. The list of errors is extensive, but a few of the topics are: spiritualizing, embellishing, culturalizing, anglicizing and experientializing. They may seem like difficult terms, but they are all explained in sufficient detail and with plenty of examples.

The final chapter provides four pointers for translating straight cuts into a life. Interpreting Scripture properly is just the first step in allowing the Words of God to penetrate and change our lives.

What I most appreciated about this book is that the author provides examples for everything he writes about. When he discusses rules for interpretation, for example, he exposits Psalm 13, showing how he would go about interpreting this passage. He shows the questions that should arise when discussing it and how he would answer each of them. Another strength in this book is the questions at the end of each chapter. So often I find that the questions authors put in their books add little to the subject, but in this case they truly ensure that the reader has read carefully and understood the content of the chapter.

The only shortcoming I found is that the author sometimes does not go into quite enough detail about regular Bible study habits. I would have appreciated some suggestions on how to begin a regular pattern of inductive Bible study.

Despite that small shortcoming, this book is an excellent introduction to the principles of Biblical interpretation and I heartily recommend it. I would suggest that it might be well complemented by a book that specifically covers the inductive method of Bible study, such as Kay Arthur’s “How To Study Your Bible.”

Author: Richard Mayhue
Title: How To Interpret The Bible For Yourself
Published: 2001

10 years 1 month ago

The Passion of the Christ has been described by Protestant leaders as being �factually accurate,� �very accurate [in the details],� �realistic,� �biblical,� �an accurate account,.� �a true representation of Jesus� and �close to the Scriptures.� All of these quotes were taken from The Passion Outreach Web site, a resource dedicated to helping churches of all denominations capitalize on this movie. This movie is continually described as an exceedingly accurate portrayal of the gospel account of the passion of Jesus � an account that transcends denominations.

Mel Gibson has repeatedly acknowledged that He drew inspiration for The Passion of the Christ both from the gospels and from the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich. He respects her to such an extent that he carries an Emmerich relic in his pocket at all times. Most Protestants pastors and leaders admit that Gibson has taken �artistic license� at times, but by reading Emmerich�s book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ we will see that much of what is perceived as artistic license is actually following the words of Emmerich. It seems that it is impossible to reconcile Emmerich and the Bible. The movie must either follow the Word of God or the words of a human. Though the two seem to complement each other at times, far more often they contradict. A staunch Roman Catholic and devotee of Mary, Emmerich adds situations and theology which stand in direct contrast to the beliefs Protestants should hold dear.

Why?

Before we begin this examination I would like to answer the question of why I have decided to present this information. Certainly this could be construed as an attempt to just be critical for the sake of being critical. It could be seen as an attempt to lower other people�s perception of a man who claims to be a Christian. It could be seen as an attempt to discredit this movie.

I present this information for the sake of sharing what is true and what is false in this movie. This movie is being presented as truth, yet much of it is error. I seek to expose what is truth and what is error so people who see the movie can understand what parts of the story truly happened and are therefore important and part of the story of the Savior�s death. At the same time I wish to show which parts are inspired by false revelation supposedly revealed by God almost two thousand years after the writing of the Bible. The error adds elements to the story that detract from God�s glory and Christ�s purpose in suffering and dying.

Brief Biographical Sketch of Anne Catherine Emmerich

The following information is drawn primarily from the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is evident that her abilities are fiction, yet the Encyclopedia teaches they are fact.

Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian nun, stigmatic and ecstatic who was born in 1774 and died in 1824. She was forced to work from an early age and after a difficult twenty eight years of life entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. She soon began to display strange powers and ecstasies. Her convent was closed in 1812 and she was forced to find refuge in a poor widow�s house. In 1813 she became bedridden. It was during her long illness that her supernatural abilities became popular knowledge. Some of these abilities included conversing with the child Jesus, predicting future events, having knowledge of other people�s diseases and prescribing remedies that never failed. She soon experienced the stigmata with which she suffered for many years. In 1819 the poet Klemens Brentano visited her and she asked him to write down the many visions God had given her. In 1833 the “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich” was released followed in 1852 by “The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Six weeks after her death a rumor surfaced that her body had been removed from its grave. She was disinterred and it was discovered that her body had suffered no decay.

Emmerich�s visions are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be private revelations and not public revelations. Therefore, not all Catholics are required to believe them and the Church has no official position on their accuracy or truth. They are widely accepted amongst Traditionalist Catholics and relatively unknown to other Catholics.

Emmerich�s Influence in The Passion of the Christ

The following table details many of the scenes in the movie that are not described in the Bible and shows, where I have been able to find out, where the inspiration came from. This is not an exhaustive list of all the extra-Biblical material presented in the movie.

The Passion of the Christ

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Satan torments Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane

Chapter 1, pages 100-102

But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of his soul increasingly awful visions, at the same time addressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takest thou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear its penalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?’”

Mary wakes up, sensing Jesus’s arrest

Chapter 1, page 116

During this agony of Jesus, I saw the Blessed Virgin also overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish of soul, in the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. She was with Magdalen and Mary in the garden belonging to the house, and almost prostrate from grief, with her whole body bowed down as she knelt. She fainted several times, for she beheld in spirit different portions of the agony of Jesus.”


Chapter 11

THE Blessed Virgin was ever united to her Divine Son by interior spiritual communications; she was, therefore, fully aware of all that happened to him—she suffered with him, and joined in his continual prayer for his murderers. But her maternal feelings prompted her to supplicate Almighty God most ardently not to suffer the crime to be completed, and to save her Son from such dreadful torments.”

Soldiers throw Jesus off a bridge

Chapter 3, page 131

I saw our Lord fall twice before he reached the bridge, and these falls were caused entirely by the barbarous manner in which the soldiers dragged him; but when they were half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutal inclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threw him off the bridge into the water”

Jesus’ abuse when before the priests.

At this answer of Jesus the countenance of Annas flushed with fury and indignation. A base menial who was standing near perceived this, and he immediately struck our Lord on the face with his iron gauntlet, exclaiming at the same moment, ‘Answerest thou the High Priest so?’ Jesus was so nearly prostrated by the violence of the blow, that when the guards likewise reviled and struck him, he fell quite down, and blood trickled from his face on to the floor. Laughter, insults, and bitter words resounded through the hall. The archers dragged him roughly up again, and he mildly answered, ‘If 1 have spoken evil. give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me?’”

Flashback: Jesus, as a young carpenter, is at home with Mary


During court scene, Mary prays, “It has begun Lord. So be it.”


After thrice denying Jesus, Peter runs to Mary, weeping and calling her, “Mother.”

Chapter 11, page 165

Mary approached him instantly, and said, ‘Simon, tell me, I entreat you, what is become of Jesus, my Son !’ These words pierced his very heart; he could not even look at her, but turned away, and again wrung his hands. Mary drew close to him, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: ‘Simon, son of John, why dost thou not answer me?’—‘Mother!’ exclaimed Peter, in a dejected tone, ‘0, Mother, speak not to me—thy Son is suffering more than words can express: speak not to me!’”

Mary walks about the now-emptied courtyard and then falls with her face pressed to the floor, directly above the cell in which Jesus is imprisoned

Chapter 11, page 166

John, therefore, led her and the holy women to the front of the prison where Jesus was confined. Mary was with Jesus in spirit, and Jesus was with her; but this loving Mother wished to hear with her own cars the voice of her Divine Son.”

Satan and his minions torment Judas

Chapter 5, page 144

I beheld the traitor, Judas Iscariot, wandering about, alone, and a prey to the tortures of his guilty con-science; he feared even his own shadow, and was followed by many devils, who endeavored to turn his feelings of remorse into black despair.”

An effeminate Herod is depicted amidst cushions

Chapter 20, page 194

Herod was expecting them. He was seated on a pile of cushions, heaped together so as to form a species of throne, in a spacious hall, and surrounded by courtiers and warriors.”


Chapter 20, page 195

the luxurious and effeminate prince turned away in disgust, uttered the name of God, and said to the priests in a tone of mingled pity and contempt, ‘Take him hence, and bring him not back into my presence in such a deplorable state.’”

Herod calls Jesus a fool and commands that Jesus be given a fool’s homage

Chapter 20, page 197

But he spoke in the most contemptuous manner to Jesus, and turning to the guards and servants who surrounded him, and who were about two hundred in number, said: ‘Take away this fool, and pay him that homage which is his due; he is mad, rather than guilty of any crime.’”

The scourging scene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Jesus is scourged against a pillar in the center of a courtyard. The scourging culminates with the use of chains with barbs that tear chunks off his back. Jesus is then rotated so the soldiers can scourge the other side. Mary is prominent throughout the scene as if exhorting Jesus.

Chapter 22, page 206

This pillar, placed in the centre of the court, stood alone, and did not serve to sustain any part of the building”


Chapter 22, page 206

Jesus trembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar, and took off his garments as quickly as he could, but his hands were bloody and swollen. The only return he made when his brutal executioners struck and abused him was to pray for them in the most touching manner: he turned his face once towards his Mother, who was standing overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her: she fainted, and would have fallen, had not the holy women who were there supported her.”


Chapter 22, page 208

Two fresh executioners took the places of the last mentioned, who were beginning to flag; their scourges were composed of small chains, or straps covered with iron hooks, which penetrated to the bone, and tore off large pieces of flesh at every blow. What word, alas! could describe this terrible—this heartrending scene!

The cruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated; they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar. As he was totally unable to support himself in an upright position, they passed cords round his waist, under his arms, and above his knees, and having bound his hands tightly into the rings which were placed at the upper part of the pillar, they recommenced scourging him”


Chapter 23, page 211

I SAW the Blessed Virgin in a continual ecstasy during the time of the scourging of her Divine Son; she saw and suffered with inexpressible love and grief all the torments he was enduring.”

During the scourging scene, Mary says, “My son, when, where, how will you choose to be delivered from this?”


Pilate’s wife hands white linens to Mary, who uses these to wipe Jesus’s blood from the floor

Chapter 23, page 211

I saw Claudia Procles, the wife of Pilate, send some large pieces of linen to the Mother of God.”


Chapter 25, page 218

Then it was that the Mother of Jesus, accompanied by the holy women, approached the pillar and wiped up the blood with which it and the ground around were saturated.”

Flashback: Mary Magdalene recalls Jesus preventing her from being stoned and writing on the ground (this is a misusage of John 8:1-11; the woman in this passage was never named)


Jesus prays, “I am your servant and the son of your handmaid.”


Jesus falls multiple times while carrying the cross (These correspond to the 3rd, 7th, and 9th Stations of the Cross. “The Stations of the Cross are a popular Catholic devotion. Each of the fourteen stations stands for an event which occurred during Jesus’ Passion and death at Calvary on Good Friday. A person making the Stations Of The Cross is to meditate about each event depicted at each station, and pray.”

Chapters 31-33

Mary meets Jesus while on the way to Golgotha (4th Station of the Cross)

Chapter 32

Then came her beloved Son. He was almost sinking under the heavy weight of his cross, and his head, still crowned with thorns, was drooping in agony on his shoulder. He cast a look of compassion and sorrow upon his Mother, staggered, and fell for the second time upon his hands and knees. Mary was perfectly agonised at this sight; she forgot all else; she saw neither soldiers nor executioners; she saw nothing but her dearly-loved Son; and, springing from the doorway into the midst of the group who were insulting and abusing him, she threw herself on her knees by his side and embraced him. The only words I heard were, ‘Beloved Son!’ and ‘Mother!’”

Flashback: Mary remembers a time when Jesus (as a child) fell and she came running with outstretched arms


The scene in which Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service is very similar to that written by Emmerich. One of Simon’s children is present. He is initially reluctant, exhibiting great disdain towards Jesus. Simon soon after experiences a change of heart.

Chapter 33

At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was a gardener, just returning home after working in a garden near the eastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of lopped branches. The soldiers perceiving by his dress that he was a pagan, seized him, and ordered him to assist Jesus in carrying his cross. He refused at first, but was soon compelled to obey, although his children, being frightened, cried and made a great noise, upon which some women quieted and took charge of them. Simon was much annoyed, and expressed the greatest vexation at being obliged to walk with a man in so deplorable a condition of dirt and misery; but Jesus wept, and cast such a mild and heavenly look upon him that he was touched, and instead of continuing to show reluctance, helped him to rise, while the executioners fastened one arm of the cross on his shoulders, and he walked behind our Lord, thus relieving him in a great measure from its weight”

Veronica wipes Jesus’s face (6th Station of the Cross; the cloth with the bloody face imprinted in it is now a relic)

Chapter 34

Seraphia was the name of the brave woman who thus dared to confront the enraged multitude; she was the wife of Sirach, one of the councillors belonging to the Temple, and was afterwards known by the name of Veronica, which name was given from the words vera icon (true portrait), to commemorate her brave conduct on this day.

Seraphia had prepared some excellent aromatic wine, which she piously intended to present to our Lord to refresh him on his dolorous way to Calvary. She had been standing in the street for some time, and at last went back into the house to wait. She was, when I first saw her, enveloped in a long veil, and holding a little girl of nine years of age whom she had adopted, by the hand; a large veil was likewise hanging on her arm, and the little girl endeavoured to hide the jar of wine when the procession approached. Those who were marching at the head of the procession tried to push her back; but she made her way through the mob, the soldiers, and the archers, reached Jesus, fell on her knees before him, and presented the veil, saying at the same time, ‘Permit me to wipe the face of my Lord.’ Jesus took the veil in his left hand, wiped his bleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Seraphia kissed it, and put it under her cloak. The girl then timidly offered the wine, but the brutal soldiers would not allow Jesus to drink it.”

The scene of Jesus and Simon of Cyrene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Simon threatens to stop helping if the soldiers continue in their cruelty, saying that he will do so even if the soldiers kill him. Simon then places Jesus’s arm across his shoulders, supporting him.

Chapter 35, page 243

Their cruelty to Jesus so exasperated Simon of Cyrene that he at last exclaimed, ‘If you continue this brutal conduct, I will throw down the cross and carry it no farther. I will do so if you kill me for it.’”


Chapter 35, page 244

Jesus was on the point of again falling, but Simon, who was behind, perceiving that he could not stand, hastened to support him; he leant upon Simon, and was thus saved from falling to the ground.”

The scene in which Jesus is nailed to the cross is very similar to that written by Emmerich. After the first hand is nailed, Jesus’ other arm is stretched out with a sickening crunch to reach the hole provided for the nail. The soldiers also subject Jesus to more agony as they stretch his body out to the wooden footrest that they placed too low.

Chapter 38, page 250

The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted.”


Chapter 38, page 251

The executioners had fastened a piece of wood at the lower part of the cross under where the feet of Jesus would be nailed, that thus the weight of his body might not rest upon the wounds of his hands, as also to prevent the bones of his feet from being broken when nailed to the cross. A hole had been pierced in this wood to receive the nail when driven through his feet, and there was likewise a little hollow place for his heels These precautions were taken lest his wounds should be torn open by the weight of his body, and death ensue before he had suffered all the tortures which they hoped to see him endure. The whole body of our Lord had been dragged upward, and contracted by the violent manner with which the executioners had stretched out his arms, and his knees were bent up; they therefore flattened and tied them down tightly with cords; but soon perceiving that his feet did not reach the bit of wood which was placed for them to rest upon, they became infuriated. Some of their number proposed making fresh holes for the nails which pierced his hands, as there would be considerable difficulty in removing the bit of wood, but the others would do nothing of the sort, and continued to vociferate, ‘He will not stretch himself out, but we will help him;’ they accompanied these words with the most fearful oaths and imprecations, and having fastened a rope to his right leg, dragged it violently until it reached the wood, and then tied it down as tightly as possible. The agony which Jesus suffered from this violent tension was indescribable; the words ‘My God, my God,’ escaped his lips, and the executioners increased his pain by tying his chest and arms to the cross, lest the hands should be torn from the nails. They then fastened his left foot on to his right foot, having first bored a hole through them with a species of piercer, because they could not be placed in such a position as to be nailed together at once. Next they took a very long nail and drove it completely through both feet into the cross below, which operation was more than usually painful, on account of his body being so unnaturally stretched out”

As the cross is lifted up, Mary opens fists, releasing pebbles she had been holding (perhaps in a gesture of surrender)


Jesus is depicted as having long hair and being generally pleasing to the eye

Chapter 41, page 257

The complexion of our Lord was fair, like that of Mary, and slightly tinted with red; but his exposure to the weather during the last three years had tanned him considerably. His chest was wide, but not hairy like that of St. John Baptist; his shoulders broad, and his arms and thighs sinewy; his knees were strong and hardened, as is usually the case with those who have either walked or knelt much, and his legs long, with very strong muscles; his feet were well formed, and his hands beautiful, the fingers being long and tapering, and although not delicate like those of a woman, still not resembling those of a man who had laboured hard. His neck was rather long, with a well-set and finely proportioned head; his forehead large and high; his face oval; his hair, which was far from thick, was of a golden brown colour, parted in the middle and falling over his shoulders; his beard was not any great length, but pointed and divided under the chin.”

Mary begs, “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart, my son, let me die with you.”

Chapter 43, page 259

the Blessed Virgin, filled with intense feelings of motherly love, entreated her Son to permit her to die with him”

A soldier is showered by Jesus’ blood after piercing His side

Chapter 48, page 276

He seized his lance and rode quickly up to the mound on which the Cross was planted, stopped just between the cross of the good thief and that of our Lord, and taking his lance in both hands, thrust it so completely into the right side of Jesus that the point went through the heart, and appeared on the left side. When Cassius drew his lance out of the wound a quantity of blood and water rushed from it, and flowed over his face and body. This species of washing produced effects somewhat similar to the vivifying waters of Baptism: grace and salvation at once entered his soul. He leaped from his horse, threw himself upon his knees, struck his breast, and confessed loudly before all his firm belief in the divinity of Jesus.”

Jesus’ body is lowered by the soliders and other men

Chapter 48, page 285

Then Joseph and Nicodemus, having placed ladders against the front of the Cross, in a very upright position, and close to the body, untied the upper strap, and fastened it to one of the hooks on the ladder; they did the same with the two other straps, and passing them all on from hook to hook, caused the sacred body to descend…”

Jesus’ body is lowered into Mary’s arms and the camera focuses on Mary in the “Pieta pose” before panning and fading out (this suggests Mary as a co-redeemer)

Chapter 50, page 285

When the body was taken down it was wrapped in linen from the knees to the waist, and then placed in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who, overwhelmed with sorrow and love, stretched them forth to receive their precious burden.”


Chapter 51, page 286

THE Blessed Virgin seated herself upon a large cloth spread on the ground, with her right knee, which was slightly raised, and her back resting against some mantles, rolled together so as to form a species of cushion. No precaution had been neglected which could in any way facilitate to her—the Mother of Sorrows—in her deep affliction of soul, the mournful but most sacred duty which she was about to fulfil in regard to the body of her beloved Son. The adorable head of Jesus rested upon Mary’s knee, and his body was stretched upon a sheet. The Blessed Virgin was overwhelmed with sorrow and love. Once more, and for the last time, did she hold in her arms the body of her most beloved Son, to whom she had been unable to give any testimony of love during the long hours of his martyrdom. And she gazed upon his wounds and fondly embraced his blood-stained cheeks, whilst Magdalen pressed her face upon his feet.”



Sources:

Emmerich, Anne Catherine. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Read It Online

I am indebted to a brother in Christ for doing much of the comparison between the movie and Emmerich’s book.

�I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.� Revelation 22:18

10 years 2 months ago

For a book that seems to indicate it will help the reader learn how to study God’s Word, How To Get The Most From God’s Word contains very little teaching on that subject. That is not to say, though, that it is not an excellent book. I read this book in the hopes that it would coach me on methods for more fulfilling Bible study. It turns out, though, that the bulk of this book is dedicated to why I should study the Bible with only minimal emphasis on how I should study it. Though at first I was disappointed, I came to see that this book is full of truth and may be one of the best books I have read about truly understanding the Bible. I have little doubt that the emphasis on what the Bible is will prove more valuable to me than a book filled with advice on how to study Scripture.

First I am going to state my complaints with this book. Primarily, I felt the title misleading. The book seems to say it is a “how” book but in reality is more of a “why” book. Second, it seems that the book’s publication coincided with the publication of The MacArthur Study Bible and How To Get The Most From God’s Word sometimes seems to be little more than an advertisement for it. There are at least 12 references to The MacArthur Study Bible and that not-so-subtle advertising cheapens the book, making it feel more than a little self-serving.

Complaints aside, this book speaks of some awesome truths about God’s Word. The author evidently believes that the Bible can only be truly appreciated when the reader understands its value, beauty and necessity. To that end he first explains how and why we can trust the Bible. He speaks about the Bible’s origins and inspiration and how we can have comfort in the fact that the Bible is true. He then turns to an exploration of what the Bible can do for us. He shows that it can change us, make us free, reveal God’s will, help us grow spiritually and prepare us for spiritual battle. Building on this foundation, the final section, which unfortunately is only a few pages long, provides practical tips for studying the Bible.

The highlight of this book is the chapter on spiritual warfare. Through a careful exposition of Paul’s teaching about the sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6, MacArthur shows the power and necessity of the Bible in defeating Satan. He shows that it is not only a defensive weapon, but also an offensive weapon – the only offensive weapon in our arsenal. Another important section is the one dealing with proper Biblical interpretation. The author’s teachings about how not to interpret the Bible are important today when so many Christian teachers are using the Bible in any way they want with little regard to its true meaning and with even less regard for proper methodology.

This book left me with a greater appreciation of the Bible and certainly with a greater love for it. The author’s long list of reasons for why I should love it, study it and rely on it left me with a greater understanding of the priceless treasure God has given us in His Word. I highly recommend this book.

10 years 3 months ago

One of Satan’s greatest triumphs is in convincing Christians to abandon the Bible, or at least keeping them from really mining its depths. He tries to convince us that the Bible is outdated, unimportant or less important than many other things. He tries to convince us that it is difficult to understand and that we should rely on others to interpret it for us.

R.C. Sproul wrote Knowing Scripture early in his career to address these concerns and out of a desire to see Christians dedicate themselves to a systematic study of the Bible. Written in 1977, this is one of Sproul’s earliest but most important and highly recommended books.

Sproul begins with an introduction to why we should read the Bible. He dispels myths regarding Scripture being too difficult to understand or too boring to hold our attention. From that foundation he shows how the principle of private interpretation was a pillar of the Reformation and thus remains a pillar of Protestantism. He explains what private interpretation is and what it is not. He shows, for example, that it does not preclude us from verifying our interpretations against those of others. He also stresses the need for objectivity as we read the Scripture. In short, he keeps us from viewing private interpretation as being a method of forcing Scripture to say what we want it to say.

He dedicates a chapter to an introduction to hermeneutics. Do not be scared by this technical word as it simply means “a list of rules and guidelines for interpreting Scripture.” Some of the concepts he introduces are:

  • The analogy of faith. This says that Scripture interprets Scripture, or that one passage supports and explains another. It also means that one part of Scripture never corrects another part, for Scripture needs to correction.
  • Literal Interpretation. This says that Scripture needs to be scrutinized as literature, paying attention to grammar, word choice and genre. Just because the Bible is a special book does not mean we can ignore standard literal interpretation.
  • Genre Analysis. This says that Scripture must be analyzed for genre and it is crucial that we distinguish between genres such as history and poetry.
  • Grammatico-Historical. This is a method of interpreting Scripture that focuses on, among other things, grammatical constructions and historical context. This is the traditional and most accurate method of hermeneutics.
  • Authorship and Dating. It is important to understand the dating of a particular book or passage as well as its authorship.

The bulk of the book is contained in a chapter that lays out ten rules for Biblical interpretation. They are:

  1. Do not change the rules of interpretation for the Bible. Read the Bible just like any other book
  2. Seek to empathize with the Biblical characters
  3. Narratives must be interpreted by the didactic
  4. The implicit is to be interpreted by the explicit
  5. Determine the meaning of words using lexicography, etymology and context
  6. Note the presence of parallelisms
  7. Note the difference between proverb and law
  8. Observe the difference between the spirit and the letter of the law
  9. Be careful with parables
  10. Be careful with predictive prophecy

Each of these points receives careful attention. Though some of them may sound shocking (such as “read the Bible just like any other book”) Sproul provides solid reasons for the necessity of each.

The author then turns his attention to a discussion of culture and the Bible. Just I am confined to a specific cultural setting, so were the authors of the Bible. We need to be able to discern the difference between principle and custom in regards to the Bible. Sproul provides several guidelines for doing this.

The book closes with a discussion of some resources that may help in studying the Bible. These range from commentaries to dictionaries and lexicons. If there is an area of this book that shows its age, it is in this section. There are so many more resources at our disposal now, especially on the Internet, that this section loses some of its usefulness. A discussion of modern translations and some of the newer commentaries would be helpful. Perhaps a second edition of this book is in order. One thing I found amusing is that the author says he does not agree with study Bibles, yet years later was the editor of the New Geneva Study Bible (later renamed the Reformation Study Bible). I presume his view changed!

This book does a wonderful job of introducing hermeneutics for the lay person and I would recommend it for any Christian. It presents advanced concepts in a way that it easy to read and understand. My only complaint is that it advances many rules but does not dedicate any attention to the “how’s” of hermeneutics. Some examples where the author led us through some difficult passages would have been most welcome and would have helped ensure we not only understood the rules but also understood how to use them.

10 years 5 months ago

Everyone’s life is driven by something. I see now that Rick Warren likes to open each chapter with a concise summary of the chapter’s title! Chapter three of The Purpose Driven Life begins by stating that each person’s life is driven and controlled by something. Warren lists five of the most common driving forces. They are:

  1. Guilt - Many people live their lives burdened by guilt. They allow this guilt to control them so that their past controls their future. God, though, loves to give them the opportunity for a fresh start. They do not need to live in guilt.
  2. Resentment & Anger - Some people hold on to hurts from the past and never learn to let them go. Eventually this anger and resentment controls them. Warren’s advice is “For your own sake, learn from it, and then let it go.”
  3. Fear - Fear controls many people. By playing it safe and always fighting to maintain the status quo they may avoid God’s purpose for their lives. These people need to learn to fight fear through faith in God.
  4. Materialism - Most people in our society are driven by materialism. They are driven to acquire more and more possessions and believe that security can only be found in having more. This goes directly against Scripture which says that the most valuable things in life are not things!
  5. Need For Approval - Many people allow their need for other people’s approval to control their lives. They spend their lives worrying about what others think of them.

Though not an exhaustive list, these probably summarize most people. Warren follows his summary of these driving forces by stating that this forty-day journey will show me how to live a life that is driven by purpose rather than by fear, guilt, resentment, materialism or the need for approval. None of these can compensate for a life with no purpose.

There are five main benefits to living a purpose-driven life. They are:

  1. Knowing My Purpose Gives Meaning To My Life - Humans were made to have meaning. Without purpose, life is meaningless. A meaningless life is a life without hope or significance. This is a profound statement and one that everyone should spend time pondering. God gives purpose. Purpose gives meaning. Meaning gives hope and significance. There is awesome truth contained within that logic.
  2. Knowing My Purpose Simplifies My Life - My purpose becomes the standard I use to determine which activities are important and which are not. If an activity does not further my purpose it can, and often should, be removed or ignored. My purpose gives me the foundation on which to base decisions and allocate my time and resources.
  3. Knowing My Purpose Focuses My Life - With a determined purpose I can focus my time and energy on what is truly important. Without purpose I may always be getting distracted and changing direction. Focusing on a few things that fulfill my purpose will yield better results than attempting to focus on many things that may not.
  4. Knowing My Purpose Motivates My Life - Purpose produces passion. By knowing my purpose I will be passionate about achieving it.
  5. Knowing My Purpose Prepares Me For Eternity - My time on earth is nothing more than a preparation for eternity. What matters in the end is not whether people remember me after I am gone but what God says about my life. Building an eternal legacy is far more important than building an earthly one.

To finish the chapter, Warren speaks about our “final exam” as we stand before God after death. He states that God will ask us two questions. The first will be, “What did you do with my Son, Jesus Christ?” and the second will be “What did you do with what I gave you?” I found that his statement “your religious background or doctrinal views” will not matter did not sit very well. Though in theory I agree, I do not like to see such things downplayed. Sound doctrine and a solid walk with God is critical to the Christian life. The finer points of doctrine may not matter when it comes to entrance into heaven, but this does not mean they do not matter at all.

Bible Passages

This chapter quotes Scripture 17 times using six different translations and paraphrases. Once again, there are a few passages that raise concern.

In speaking about the importance of purpose, Warren quotes Genesis 4:12 which speaks about the curse God placed on Cain as punishment for murdering his brother. It reads, “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” Warren then states, “That describes most people today - wandering through life without a purpose.” Though the statement is true, Genesis 4:12 does not prove his point for it does not concern purpose.

He later quotes Job 5:2 using Today’s English Version which reads radically different than a more literal translation. Then in the section about purpose giving meaning to life he again quotes Job (and Isaiah) out of context. It is quite a misreading to say that Job’s felt his life was hopeless because he was without purpose!

Finally, in speaking about being driven by the need for approval Warren quotes Matthew 6:24. He quotes only a few words. “No one can serve two masters.” Once again, I agree with what Warren says and I agree that the passage is translated correctly. However, the passage has nothing to do with desiring approval! The passage, when read in context, is clearly about the love of money. The complete verse reads, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

The previous passage may be the most clear example of my frustration with Warren’s use of Scripture. Through the first three chapters he has continually proved his points by using tiny snippets of the Bible without giving context. When examined in the wider context of the verse, chapter or book we find that Warren has either stretched the meanings of the verses or given them a meaning that is altogether foreign to them. Of course we know that in Bible study context is king. Many radical and unscriptural beliefs have arisen from using Scripture outside of its natural context. Warren, of course, has not generally used Scripture to prove unscriptural beliefs. However, this does not rationalize its misuse. Proving something using false proof or false evidence is not wise and is not a sound method for studying the Bible.

Question To Consider

Today’s question is, “What would my family and friends say is the driving force of my life? What do I want it to be?” I have not asked any of my friends and family. I certainly would like to think and sincerely hope that they would answer that God drives my life. I want nothing more than to be a tool used by God to further His work. No, my life is not wholly devoted to this purpose and I know it never will be in entirety, yet I do hope that as I grow in my faith, so will my devotion to this purpose.

Up Next

Tomorrow’s topic is Made To Last Forever.

10 years 9 months ago
 

Just a few months ago I came to the sudden and perhaps not-so-startling realization that although I have been reading the Bible for more than twenty years I had never really been taught how to study it. I have been told of the importance of spending time each day reading God’s Word, meditating on it and even memorizing it, but I do not ever recall being taught how to systematically study it.

After explaining this predicament to a friend of mine, she recommended the inductive Bible study approach, which she had only just discovered through buying the New Inductive Study Bible. Kay Arthur edited that version of the Bible and knowing she was a proponent of the inductive method, I decided to read How To Study Your Bible by Arthur.

I do not intend to go into detail about the Inductive method of Bible study. There is any number of resources available in bookstores and online that can outline the method in detail. Essentially, though, it begins with understanding the context of the big picture (the Bible) then works to the smaller picture (a specific book of the Bible) and so on until the study leads to specific words. The method relies heavily on note-taking and Bible marking. There is a whole system of Bible marking that Arthur recommends which helps in identifying themes and patterns. The appendices are filled with useful information about how to best use concordances and expository dictionaries. They even go into some detail about the tenses, moods and voices of Greek verbs!

Although the book sometimes appears as an advertisement for the New Inductive Study Bible, it does a fantastic job of outlining the method and rationale for the inductive approach to Bible study. This book is a valuable resource and I highly recommend it.

Title: How To Study Your Bible
Author: Kay Arthur
Published: 1994

Key Words:

  • Bible Study
  • Inductive Method

Pages