Monthly Archives: September 2008

 

Sep

30

2008

Trevin Wax|3:50 am CT

How does Christ Demonstrate God's Power?

Christ conquers sin, death and the grave, freeing us from the power of the evil one.

Christ conquers demons, freeing people from oppression.

Christ heals people, freeing us from sickness.

Christ forgives people, freeing us from guilt and sin.

Christ calls people, freeing us from being focused on ourselves.

Christ loves people, freeing us from the futility of trying to earn favor with God.

Christ teaches people, freeing us from misunderstandings about God and his Law.

Christ resists temptation, freeing us from our inclination to always choose our own way over God’s.

Christ comes back from the dead, freeing us from the sting of death.

Christ gives us his Spirit, freeing us from being motivated only by our selfishness.

Christ promises to return, freeing us from despair that history is pointless and not moving anywhere.

(Feel free to add to these in the comments section.)

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Sep

29

2008

Trevin Wax|3:05 am CT

Eternal Words

“Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.”

- Jesus to the disciples (Luke 21:33)

When Jesus was presented at the temple as a baby, the righteous man, Simeon took Him in his arms and said to Jesus’ mother, Mary, “The thoughts from many hearts will be revealed.”

I’ve always enjoyed good literary ”foreshadowing.” Simeon’s speech foreshadows the rest of Luke’s narrative of Jesus’ teaching ministry. Jesus spoke words that cut to the heart of those listening, words that revealed the selfishness and evil in the hearts of his listeners. 

Jesus’ words are imperishable, standing the test of time. I feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction every time I read the Gospels. Jesus’ teaching is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago, and that is precisely why Jesus, during the last week of His earthly ministry, could say frankly, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Jesus’ words find you where you are. His sayings often shock, puzzle, and even anger you, all the while challenging you to greater submission to the will of the Father. Jesus’ words have not passed away because there is no substitute for what He taught through His actions and His life.

Blogging is a unique opportunity to share thoughts and insights with others. But popular blog posts fade so quickly. They are soon buried in the blogosphere. Thoughts and insights come and go.

Perhaps we can learn something from the fast-paced, temporary nature of blogging. All our spiritual pontifications, useful as they may (hopefully) be for a time, are no substitute for the Scriptures. My words will come and go. Our writings will one day be forgotten (and for those of us who blog, that happens sooner than later!).

But Christ’s words will remain for all eternity.

I never want to be a person so intent on speaking for Christ that I no longer am a disciple who listens to Christ. 

I want to know him and the power of his resurrection. I want to be like Peter and recognize that Jesus has the words of eternal life. I want to spend my life knowing and loving the “Holy One of God” whose very words are eternal.

His are words that last.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Sep

27

2008

 
 

Sep

27

2008

Trevin Wax|3:14 am CT

The Gift of Cerebral Palsy

Amazing Hannity & Colmes interview with Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor with cerebral palsy.

 
 

Sep

26

2008

Trevin Wax|3:28 am CT

In the Blogosphere

I have had limited access to the internet this week, as I have been leading a mission team in Moldova. But it looks like there has been quite a bit of discussion on two subjects: the gospel and the dis-use of Emergent and Emerging as a label. Here’s a short round-up.

I linked to Greg Gilbert’s post from last week about the two different questions being asked when someone says, “What is the Gospel?” He follows up with two additional posts (part 2, part 3). Michael Spencer responds to Gilbert’s posts here. 

Meanwhile, in another part of the blogosphere, Scot McKnight has begun a series looking at how the word “gospel” is used throughout the Bible. See how the word is used in the psalms, in Isaiah, Luke 1, and Luke 2.

On the Emerging Church front, I wrote several months ago that the “Emerging Church” had begun to recede. One of the reasons I predicted this direction was because of the tendency of many to begin distancing themselves from the Emerging label. Now, some within the movement are wondering if the term is dead.

Dan Kimball talks about how the term “Emerging Church” has changed.

Emerging blogger Andrew Jones will no longer use the term.

Out of Ur goes so far as to say R.I.P. to the term.

Scot McKnight is forging a new alliance with Dan Kimball – one that is committed to some of the basic principles of evangelical theology.

Ed Stetzer gives a missiological take on the new Emerging developments.

Brother Maynard writes a little about labels and their significance.

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: My Interviews with Justin Taylor (Part 1 and Part 2).

 
 

Sep

25

2008

Trevin Wax|3:48 am CT

Interview with Justin Taylor (Part 2): The Maps and Pictures

Yesterday, I posted part one of my interview with Justin Taylor – editor at Crossway Books and managing editor of the ESV Study Bible. Today, I have a few questions about the maps and illustrations in this Bible – particularly about how they came about.

Trevin Wax: The full-color maps, charts and drawings in this Bible are very helpful. Who is responsible for the maps? How did these come about?

Justin Taylor: Not to get all technical on you, but some background on our maps might be of interest to some readers.

In the year 2000 NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency spearheaded a project called the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. Its radar system was aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and it was able to generate “the most complete high-resolution digital topographic database of Earth.”

This database became the basis for the maps found in the ESV Study Bible, which means that the maps found in the ESVSB are using the very best and latest elevation data available anywhere—with precision that wasn’t available even a few years ago. For those interested, here is a brief overview regarding this new level of accuracy we were aiming at:

  • the terrain shading is at 90-meter elevation
  • all of the points and lines you see are vector-based (i.e., mathematically defined by latitude-longitude coordinates)
  • most of the ancient sites have been confirmed by pinpointing actual ruins or modern towns with Google Earth (e.g., you can often see the actual amphitheater, city walls, etc.)
  • most of the river paths and roads have been created by tracing them in Google Earth (they are essentially exact)

Our cartographer is David Barrett, who is the creator of the free software, Bible Mapper, “a fully interactive, highly accurate Bible mapping system that helps you quickly and easily create customized maps of the Holy Lands or study a particular period and aspect of Bible history.” Barry Beitzel, professor of OT and Semitic languages at Trinity, was our geography editor who reviewed every map for accuracy.

In addition to the 16 full-color maps in the back of the Bible (the kind on glossy paper), there are 200+ maps within the Study Bible itself. That way you can see the events and locations right there as you are reading.

It’s amazing what a difference color can make in seeing the various regions and countries! We hope readers find it to be a helpful feature.

Trevin Wax: What about the illustrations? How were they judged to be historically accurate?

Justin Taylor: The work on the illustrations was a collaborative process. Frankly, it was enormously time-intensive and complicated process—but I’m so thankful for the team that worked on it and for how it turned out.

One of the things that struck me in the original research phase is that there is not a single resource out there that contains a comprehensive collection of up-to-date reconstructions. In fact, accurate reconstructions are actually few and far between.

We first needed to find an illustration firm that could pull off a project of this scope and set a new standard of excellence, and we found it in Maltings Partnership, located in England. They have provided lots of illustrations for the DK Travel Guides, and were the exclusive illustrators for the National Geographic Traveler Guides.

We then needed to find an expert who could provide all of the details for the drawing, and we found Leen Ritmeyer, a Dutch scholar who works with his wife Kathleen at Ritmeyer Archaeological Design. He is widely considered the world’s leading authority on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. His PhD at Manchester was on Solomon’s Temple. He was the chief architect of the Temple Mount Excavations which took place in Jerusalem after the Six-Day War, and served in a similar capacity in the Jewish Quarter Excavations and the City of David Excavations. For all of these places within Jerusalem (and beyond) he has produced important reconstruction drawings. His combined expertise as archaeologist-architect-artist proved crucial for producing the drawings.

With regard to their reliability, the research comes through a combination of textual and archaeological information—and that combination is different based upon the reconstruction in question.

For example, there are no remains today from Solomon’s Temple. Even though we know where it stood (on Mount Moriah, where Herod’s Temple later stood and the Dome of the Rock now stands), we do not have any remains from the temple itself. We do, however, have a fairly detailed description of it in 1 Kings 6-7—including measurements, color, description of artistic elements, etc. So in this case, the researcher needs to combine this information with what we know of similar temples from the ancient Near East.

On the other hand, the synagogues aren’t described in the Bible (color, materials, style of roof, size, etc.). So in that case, we have to rely entirely upon archaeological work and material outside of the Bible.

Here are the illustrations we’ve posted online, giving a sample of the 40 or so illustrations and city plans:

All of the illustrations in the ESVSB have labels and explanations, though that’s not reflected in the samples above.

Here’s perhaps one more note of interest. With our main illustrations we tried to keep the angle of the drawings roughly the same—and also to keep the perspective in proportion.

So, for example, you’ll find in the ESVSB three temple reconstructions (Solomon’s temple, Zerubabbel’s temple, and Herod’s temple). All are from the same angle (roughly, from the SE), which allows for better comparisons among the three. This is even more so for Jerusalem, where we’ve included five reconstructions (in the times of David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, and Jesus). Not only are these from the same angle, but they are scaled in such a way that you can see precisely how the city grew throughout biblical times. If you look at the Guided Tour portion of the ESV Study Bible video you can see how this works:

Trevin Wax: I am guessing that the proofing process for this Bible has been quite a chore. Who has been responsible for overseeing the proofing process? How many people have been involved in this part of the work?

Justin Taylor: Good guess! Yes, it was a huge undertaking. We worked with a team of proofers—including Peachtree—to work through every page. Each book and article was treated as an individual unit, and each went through multiple rounds of checking. (And yet, of course, in a project of this magnitude with over a million words and hundreds of images, there are bound to be mistakes!)

You may get a kick out of this picture, showing researcher Travis Buchanan and Wayne Grudem holding the page proofs for the Study Bible (mercifully, the printed Bible will not be this thick!).

 
 

Sep

24

2008

Trevin Wax|3:24 am CT

Interview with Justin Taylor (Part 1): The ESV Study Bible

Today and tomorrow, I am interviewing my friend, Justin Taylor - editorial director and associate publisher at Crossway Books. Justin has co-authored several books and maintains a popular blog called “Between Two Worlds.” He lives with his wife and three children in Chicagoland. Knowing that Justin has recently served as managing editor for the ESV Study Bible, I thought that someone should interview him about the Study Bible and his role in helping get this massive project off the ground.

Trevin Wax: Tell me a little about the origin of the ESV Study Bible. How long has this Bible been in the works?

Justin Taylor: After the ESV was published in 2001, people began asking when an ESV Study Bible would be published. Crossway wanted to create a new Study Bible, but also wanted to make sure it was done well and in the right way.

In the spring of 2005 the ball began to role, and by fall of 2005 the main editorial team was in place. The main editorial team consisted of Lane Dennis (executive editor), J. I. Packer (theological editor), Wayne Grudem (general editor), Jack Collins (OT editor), Tom Schreiner (NT editor), and me (project director, managing editor).

Trevin Wax: The ESV Study Bible features contributions from world-renowned evangelical scholars. How did you go about gathering these scholars together for work on this Bible? How were assignments given? Based on field of specialty? The scholars’ interest?

Justin Taylor: The editorial team met together and worked through each book of the Bible, asking who would be the best scholar for each book—and did the same for the dozens of articles that would go in the back of the Bible. We wanted evangelical scholars who had studied, taught, and written on the book in question. We also wanted to make sure that they not only were excellent exegetes, but that they had the ability to communicate clearly to people in the pew.

We were so thankful with the responses from our contributors, who seemed eager to be a part of the project. All together we had over 100 people working on the project.

After we had all of our contributors on board, I remember looking through the list and was pleasantly surprised to see the number of countries represented. Here’s a breakdown of where our contributors are currently ministering (apart from the US):

  • Australia (2)
  • Canada (4)
  • England (6)
  • France
  • Japan (2)
  • Northern Ireland (2)
  • Scotland
  • South Africa
  • Wales

Trevin Wax: Is this a study Bible primarily for laypeople or pastors? Or both? How have you kept the study notes from becoming too technical at times?

Justin Taylor: It’s for both. In any writing project you have to have a target audience in mind, and this was no different. Our design was to produce a Bible for serious adult Christians. That doesn’t mean that new believers or younger believers or un-believers won’t benefit from it. But we were writing for thoughtful Christians.

When you’re dealing with scholars writing the notes, there’s always the possibility that it can become too technical. But we were always working with the layperson in view. Can something be said simpler and clearer? Can we avoid technical language that’s easy to use but unnecessary?

At the same time, there are some notes that go into greater depth than some might need. In this way we think it can also be a helpful tool for pastors and seminarians.

Let me give one example, 1 Pet. 3:19 is one of the harder passages in the NT to interpret. Because of that, the ESVSB note is longer than usual. Instead of just telling readers the “right answer,” it helps them think through the arguments for both sides of the issue:

3:19 spirits in prison. There is much debate about the identity of these spirits. The Greek term pneuma (“spirit”), in either singular or plural, can mean either human spirits or angels, depending on the context (cf. Num. 16:22; 27:16; Acts 7:59; Heb. 12:23; etc.). Among the three most common interpretations, the first two fit best with the rest of Scripture and with historic orthodox Christian doctrine. These are:

  • The first interpretation understands “spirits” (Gk. pneumasin, plural) as referring to the unsaved (human spirits) of Noah’s day. Christ, “in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18), proclaimed the gospel “in the days of Noah” (v. 20) through Noah. The unbelievers who heard Christ’s preaching “did not obey . . . in the days of Noah” (v. 20) and are now suffering judgment (they are “spirits in prison,” v. 19). Several reasons support this view:

(a) Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), where “herald” represents Greek kēryx, “preacher,” which corresponds to the noun kēryssō, “proclaim,” in 1 Pet. 3:19.

(b) Peter says the “Spirit of Christ” was speaking through the OT prophets (1:11); thus Christ could have been speaking through Noah as an OT prophet.

(c) The context indicates that Christ was preaching through Noah, who was in a persecuted minority, and God saved Noah, which is similar to the situation in Peter’s time: Christ is now preaching the gospel through Peter and his readers (v. 15) to a persecuted minority, and God will save them.

  • (2) In the second interpretation, the spirits are the fallen angels who were cast into hell to await the final judgment. Reasons supporting this view include:

(a) Some interpreters say that the “sons of God” in Gen. 6:2-4 are angels (see note on Gen. 6:1-2) who sinned by cohabiting with human women “when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Pet. 3:20).

(b) Almost without exception in the NT, “spirits” (plural) refers to supernatural beings rather than people (e.g., Matt. 8:16; 10:1; Mark 1:27; 5:13; 6:7; Luke 4:36; 6:18; 7:21; 8:2; 10:20; 11:26; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 19:12, 13; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 16:13-14; cf. Heb. 1:7).

(c) The word “prison” is not used elsewhere in Scripture as a place of punishment after death for human beings, while it is used for Satan (Rev. 20:7) and other fallen angels (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). In this case the message that Christ proclaimed is almost certainly one of triumph, after having been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18).

  • (3) In a third view, some have advocated the idea that Christ offered a second chance of salvation to those in hell. This interpretation, however, is in direct contradiction with other Scripture (cf. Luke 16:26; Heb. 9:27) and with the rest of 1 Peter and therefore must be rejected on biblical and theological grounds, leaving either of the first two views as the most likely interpretation. 

Trevin Wax: In the United States, we enjoy access to a wide variety of study Bibles. What is the most unique contribution of the ESV Study Bible?

Justin Taylor: That’s a tough one to answer. I really think it’s the combination of resources in one volume. The 200+ full-color maps and the 40 full-color illustrations and plans really set it apart—and are perhaps the first thing people will notice and comment on.

But there’s also an aspect of the ESVSB that we haven’t talked about yet: the 64 articles. From ethics to theology to world religion to cults to archaeology to canon to textual criticism to Greek and Hebrew, etc., the ESVB virtually functions like a library in one volume.

I’d also point to the online ESVSB (available free to everyone who purchases a printed version), which will allow complete access to every feature, as well as an ability to create your own online notes.

Trevin Wax: Tomorrow, I’ll be asking some questions about the proofing process for the Bible. Justin will also show us some of the maps and illustrations and tell us about the accuracy of these drawings.

 
 

Sep

23

2008

Trevin Wax|3:00 am CT

Top 4 Books on the Gospels

Are you interested in some indepth study in the Gospels? Let me point you to four books that will help you in your study.

1. Jesus and the Gospels
Craig Blomberg (Broadman and Holman, 1997)
An Introduction and Survey
One of the best evangelical resources on the Gospels. Blomberg does a terrific job of acquainting his readers with information on the scholarly/historical debates surrounding the Gospels, while also offering a survey of the life of Jesus. The final chapter attempts to summarize the “theology of Jesus” and is by itself worth the price of the book. 

2. Jesus the Messiah: A Survey of the Life of Christ
Robert H. Stein (IVP Academic, 1996)
A Survey of the Life of Christ
Bob Stein’s survey of the life of Christ stands out among other works on the Gospels in the way he summarizes both the teaching and the life of Jesus. It is remarkable how much helpful material Stein is able to include in a relatively brief book.

3. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels
Edited by I. Howard Marshall, Joel B. Green, and Scot McKnight (IVP, 1992)
Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (The IVP Bible Dictionary Series)
I am excited to hear that this Dictionary is currently being revised and will eventually be re-released. That said, as it stands, the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels is an important contribution to evangelical scholarship that provides a wealth of important information for Gospels scholars. If you are looking to study the Gospels in detail, you need to have this book on your shelf.

 4. Synopsis of the Four Gospels
Compiled by Kurt Aland, (United Bible Societies, 1982)
Completely Revised on the Basis of the Greek Text of the Nestle Aland (English-only text)
It is helpful to study the Gospels “horizontally,” that is – in comparison to one another. No other resource better aligns the Gospel material than Kurt Aland’s Survey. Any time I teach on the Gospels, I pull out this resource and compare and contrast the different accounts in order to clearly see the emphasis of each Gospel author.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Sep

22

2008

Trevin Wax|3:52 am CT

Reflecting Christ's Light

“The light is among you for a little while longer.”
- Jesus to the crowd (John 12:35)

As the sun went down upon His earthly ministry, Jesus publicly predicted His death and resurrection. Sometimes, he spoke subtly, claiming that “the light was among men for just a little while longer.” His time on earth was coming to a close, when His physical presence on earth as Light would no longer be visible.

Christ’s light continues to shine today through his people. We are the Light of the world, as Jesus told us, but the light that is in us does not come from ourselves or our deeds, no matter how holy and righteous we may think ourselves to be.

The luster of our lives is Christ shining His way, His truth, and His life through us. Like the moon reflects the light of the sun back to a dark world, we too reflect the light of Christ to a world of people in darkness.

Jesus’ statement about the brevity of the remaining light of His earthly work applies to each of our lives as well. The light that Jesus shines through our earthly ministry is for just a little while. Time is short, and life is shorter. We must make the most of every opportunity, living each moment to let our light shine before others… while we can.

That’s the way Christ lived while on earth. Even as He approached His suffering and death on the cross, during His final week, He continued to speak truth and be light to a dark world.

Think about your life. Are you reflecting the glory of God in your relationships? Your family? Your ministry? Your vocation?

How much light does your life give forth? Are you using the opportunities that God has given you to shine Christ wherever you go?

Allow yourself to be a lantern in this world, through which Christ can shine His light.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Sep

22

2008

Trevin Wax|2:13 am CT

Gospel Definitions: Andy Crouch

“The gospel is the proclamation of Jesus, in [two] senses. It is the proclamation announced by Jesus – the arrival of God’s realm of possibility (his “kingdom”) in the midst of human structures of possibility. But it is also the proclamation about Jesus – the good news that in dying and rising, Jesus has made the kingdom he proclaimed available to us.”

- Andy Crouch, Culture Making, page 146