Why read commentaries? Lots of reasons. But one reason is for gems such as this, mined from Craig Blomberg’s 1 Corinthians (Zondervan, 1994) in the NIV Application Commentary:
Commenting on 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, Blomberg writes,
“How can Paul be so thankful and positive [vv. 4-9] about a church rife with divisions and abuses [as the church at Corinth clearly was]…? Verses 8-9 supply the answer: God’s character provides the guarantee. He will remain faithful to his promises ultimately to perfect his people, however immature they at times seem to be (vv. 8a, 9). When he returns, when the age of the fulfillment of all the remaining biblical promises arrives, then believers will be made wholly blameless (v. 8b). Acquitted of their past sins, they will be fully prepared for the life to come. Even now, his people are in the process of being remolded, even if it is with fits and starts…” (p. 37).
Recently Al Mohler (president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky) posted an entry on his blog that addressed both (1) his hope for the church because of the young ministers entering and preparing for ministry, and (2) challenges/issues that are on the (near) horizon that demand careful response and attention by the church.
This article was one of those pieces of writing that kept me thinking for a while even after I read it, so I figured it was worth referring along. Here are some (brief) excerpts from Mohler’s post that will give you a sense of what he’s covering (and hopefully whet your appetite to reading his whole article – we’ve provided a link to it at the end):
I’m in the middle of teaching a class at Brookside called “Fuel for Faith: An Important Class about Christian Theology.” Each week for 8 weeks we cover a category (or two) of systematic theology and learn from God’s Word (primarily), our class textbook (Wayne Grudem’s Bible Doctrine) and each other.
Last week we had some great interaction about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity – I’m grateful for a class that’s willing to ask some tough questions, think deeply, and be formed by God’s Word. One of the things we had the chance to discuss was whether or not the doctrine of the Trinity is really that big of a deal. Does it really make a difference whether we worship God as “one God in three Persons” (the traditional understanding), as “one God in three manifestations” (an early heresy commonly known as modalism) or as three aligned but ultimately independent gods (tritheism)? Are the differences between these views really big enough to impact the way we live and how we worship? And most importantly, what’s the clearest way to formulate how the God of the Bible reveals himself?
Earlier today I took some time to listen to/watch an interview between John Piper and Rick Warren. I appreciated so many things about this interview: the chance to see two well-known pastors interact and seem to enjoy each other’s company, the theological clarity, and more.
These two men represent two “evangelical subcultures” that, when stereotyped, are often pitted against each other. But this interview is conducted (by design) in a way that is respectful, seeking-to-learn-and-listen, and clarifying. And this is what I appreciate most about this interview, and why I’d encourage you to take 90 minutes of time over this long Memorial Day weekend (or whenever you run across this) and follow the link below and give it a-listen or a-watch. May we see more of this respectful dialogue, while at the same time pursuing and clarifying truth, in the future.
A few weeks ago after a church service in which the sermon referenced Ephesians 1, I was asked the following question (this is a paraphrase): “How are we to understand the biblical doctrine of election?” (Most simply stated, the New Testament doctrine of election states that God has specially chosen certain people to salvation.) This is a great question, because “the question behind the question” so often deals with other important issues, such as God’s character (“Is an electing God fair?”) and motivation for evangelism (“Why should I share the Gospel if the individual may not be one of the elect?”).
I lobbed out an answer and had some good discussion with the individual who asked the question in our church lobby, but later that week I was reading through Ephesians 1 in my own time with God and journaled some additional thoughts related to this question. These journaled thoughts, with some additional editing, have morphed into this blog:
On Sunday as we continued our “Facetime” series on prayer, Pastor Steve mentioned a book that has been formative in his own thinking on prayer and that he recommended to all of us. Here’s the book: A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers by D.A. Carson.
The idea of the book is this: A great place to learn about prayer is from the prayers of the Bible. D.A. Carson focuses specifically on the prayers of Paul, and most of the book is expositions of many of the prayers of Paul we find in the New Testament.
To further whet your appetite and convince you that this book is worth-a-read, below you’ll find the table of contents of the book (so you can see what’s covered), and a few things I underlined in the introductory chapter (so you can get a taste of the actual writing).
On Sunday Brookside began a new Sunday morning series called “Face Time,” in which we’re looking closely, over the course of four weeks, at the spiritual discipline (and privilege) of prayer. In his first sermon of this series, “Priorities in Prayer,” Pastor Steve called our attention to the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and drew out certain priorities from this prayer in Scripture that should shape the priorities we bring to our own prayer life.
(To listen to the full sermon, click here to be redirected to Brookside’s “messages” page, then scroll down to the May 15, 2011 sermon.)
Pastor Steve highlighted the ongoing value of the Lord’s Prayer towards the end of this sermon by saying this: “If you haven’t prayed a single prayer in your life, you can’t go wrong praying this one prayer [i.e., the Lord's Prayer] every day…” And my guess is that Pastor Steve would also agree that, even for those of us who have been praying for years but at times struggle with the practice of prayer, this same advice stands and could be restated this way: “You can’t go wrong praying the Lord’s Prayer whenever you need some fresh life breathed into this habit.”
The great reformer Martin Luther took a similar stance. In his booklet “A Simple Way to Pray” Luther writes that there were times when he found himself to be “cool and joyless in prayer, because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and devil always impede and obstruct prayer).” In these times, one of the ways Luther reinvigorated his prayer life was by repeating the Lord’s Prayer word for word.
With these suggestions commending the continued use of the Lord’s Prayer for our own prayers, here are two simple ways to consider using this prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 to (re)invigorate your prayer life: