Category Archives: Biblical Scholarship

Review: Mark: a Commentary by RC Sproul

Mark: Saint Andrews Expositional Commentary
Mark: Saint Andrews Expositional Commentary by R.C. Sproul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Four stories about Jesus and this is the oldest.  It is also the quickest since every event in Jesus’ life seems to have happened immediately after the last.  Yet what sets this account apart is that it speaks dramatically of Christ’s authority and the draw that he had as people heard and felt the weight of that connection to the Father.

In his signature style, R.C. Sproul present this full exposition of the gospel account with Christ’s authority as its central theme.  His accessible discourse provides a look at the gospel nearly verse by verse as he not only talks about the passage itself, but connects it with the rest of the book and its significance to the life of Christ and our foundational belief as Christians.

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The Whole Truth: Telling the Story of the Bible

How would you share what the Bible is about?  How does the Old Testament relate to the New Testament?  How can we decide what meaning the stories contained in the Bible mean to us?

I remember sitting in Sunday School class and hearing about the stories of David and Goliath, Daniel in the lions den, and Moses parting the Red Sea and wondering what this all means.  It seemed to be just a series of unrelated episodes, except for the common factor that God was intimately involved.

More recently I heard a sermon (at an undisclosed location) on Jesus calming the storm from the gospel of Luke.  The speaker eagerly talked about how the storm represents an obstacle in our lives that we have to try to get around or over or under, but Jesus may call us through the storm.  Does this interpretation accurately demonstrate the meaning of the passage?  What did Mark intend when he wrote it?  What did the event mean to those who witnessed it?  Most importantly what did Jesus intend to teach when he performed this miracle?

What we are talking about here is biblical theology.  It may sound intimidating, but it basically means the way that we find meaning in the pages of the Bible.  We all come to the Bible with a set of assumptions and learning to properly interpret the Bible helps us to comb through those assumptions and get to what the Bible is all about, first in terms of it being God’s Word, then in terms of it being God’s Word to us.

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Study of Hebrews: “Milk and Solid Food”

< Hebrews 5:7-10 | Hebrews 5:11-6:12

I don’t know about you, but I find myself feeling pretty overwhelmed by what I know (and what I don’t know) about God.  There are some things that I cannot wrap my head around, but because they are so clearly taught in the Bible I have to simply be okay with them on one level and take it on faith at another.  This is why the next section of the book of Hebrews is puzzling to me.

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

(Hebrews 5:11-14 ESV)

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Study of Hebrews: “Cries and Tears”

< Hebrews 4:14-5:6 | Hebrews 5:7-10 | Hebrews 5:11-6:12 >

Death and suffering: two things we try desperately to avoid at all costs.  Or do we?  At the heart of suffering and death is sin (Romans 6:23).  We harbor our secret sins, justify others, and even commend those who sin when they do so for what may be considered a “righteous purpose.”  Yet all sin is a turning away from reliance on God and seeking our own way.  And according to the Bible, the reward for all sin is death.

From the time of the Fall of Adam, sin has become our default setting.  No matter how hard we try, no matter what the consequence, sin always seems so reasonable because it parallels with our very nature.  In his book The Sinfulness of Sin, Ralph Venning (1621– 1673) discusses the pains that Christ took to leave the throne to become enfleshed as a human.  He walked this earth and at every turn was faced with the ugliness and utter vulgarity of sin.  Christ faced every temptation and remained free of sin, yet I cannot imagine the utter sorrow he must have felt every moment with the plague of sin constantly at his shoulder.  Even in this, what may be described as torment, he alone was thus capable of becoming the atoning sacrifice for the salvation of those beloved of God.

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Study of Hebrews: “With Confidence Draw Near”

< Hebrews 3:7-4:13 | Hebrews 4:14-5:6 | Hebrews 5:7-10 >

Every day we hear phrases like “have faith” or “leap of faith.”  George Michael sang a song called “You Got to Have Faith” about believing that someone is interested in a romantic relationship.  Faith is obviously a topic that the Bible addresses often.  In the book of Hebrews we read what likely is the most well-known definition in terms of religious belief:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

I often hear people talk about faith as being something that we hold without evidence, and sometimes even with evidence to the contrary.  Do we read the words “hoped for” and “not seen,” and forget that faith also involves “assurance”?  Obviously faith is something about what is “not yet,” but where does this assurance come from?  It sounds as if the author of Hebrews is arguing that there is a level of certainty to our faith.

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