The Book

The Book: Resources

In last week’s sermon, I mentioned that I would share some beneficial resources for you as you begin you journey in understanding the Bible. Here are some very useful resources, including some favorite commentaries on the Book of Revelation.

 

Online and Electronic Resources

Bible.faithlife.com

This is an online Study Bible produced by FaithLife (formerly Logos Software). It can be used online or there are links to iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire. [Free]

 

Logos Basic

This is a computer program for both Windows and Mac. [Free]

General Bible Study – Method

Ausley, Matt Friedeman; Lisa Friedeman. LifeChanging Bible Study - Practical Keys to a Deeper Understanding of the Word. Wilmore, Ky.: Francis Asbury Press, 2009.

Thompson, David L. Bible Study That Works. Revised ed. Nappanee, IN: Evangel Publishing House, 1994.

General works on Bible Interpretation

Guthrie, George, and David S. Dockery. Holman Guide to Interpreting the Bible: Your Journey Begins Here. Nashville, TN: B & H Publishing Group, 2004.

Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.

Bible Dictionary

Achtemeier, Paul J, Publishers Harper & Row, and Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.

Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.

Powell, Mark Allan, ed. The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated). New York: HarperCollins, 2011.

Concordance

III, John R. Kohlenberger. NIV Bible Concordance. Reissue edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2012.

———. The NIV Exhaustive Bible Concordance, Third Edition: A Better Strong’s Bible Concordance. 3rd Special ed. edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2015.

Strong, James. The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Expanded edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010.

Dictionaries to Help with Biblical Words

Mounce, William D. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Supersaver ed. edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2006.

Commentaries and Bible Background

Clendenen, E. Ray, and Jeremy Royal Howard, eds. The Holman Illustrated Bible Commentary. Ill edition. Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Reference, 2015.

Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. 02 edition. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic, 2014.

Cross Reference

Nelson, Thomas. The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: An Easy-to-Use One-Volume Library for Bible Study and Lesson Preparation. Edited by Jerome H. Smith. Rev Exp Su edition. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, 1992.

Commentaries on Revelation

Keener, Craig S. Revelation. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999.

Mulholland, Robert, and Grant Osborne. James, 1-2 Peter, Jude, Revelation. Edited by Philip W. Comfort. Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011.

III, Ben Witherington. Revelation. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

 

Understandable

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

2 Peter 3:14–16 (NRSV)

Context is everything.

Mark Twain is reported to have said, “It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Twain was a noted critic of just about everything, including the Bible so the above quote was not a statement of faith.

Maybe you have even expressed something similar; I know I. have. There are many things in the Bible I do not understand. However, I know that if I dig into the context of Scripture, I can understand more than I do now, even if some of my questions remain.

The key word in that last sentence is “context.” New Testament scholar Ben Witherington has often said, “A text without a context is just a pretext for whatever you want it to say.” In other words, if we want to understand any passage of Scripture we must know the context of that passage.

Without knowing the context of a passage, we are likely to misunderstand what the author is trying to say. For those with a self-centered or evil bent, they can, as Peter said above, “twist [the Scriptures] to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” If we are earnestly trying to understand, that understanding may elude us if we do not know the context.

But what is the context of a passage? On a very basic level, the context of a passage begins with the paragraph which contains the passage. The writers of Scripture did not write Scripture as a series of disconnected sentences, like a series of fortune cookie slips. They wrote books, letters, stories, parables, prayers and a host of other writings. Each of these types of writing had a beginning and middle and an end; they were never meant to be read in isolation.

Another level of context concerns the cultural context. The authors of Scripture wrote from a culture and to a culture. If we are to understand the message they wrote we must know something of that culture.

So what do we believe?

But even if we do not have access to cultural information, God has given us enough in Scripture to lead us to a relationship with him, know what pleases him and what he wants for our world. As our United Methodist Book of Discipline says,

We believe the Holy Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the Word of God so far as it is necessary for our salvation. It is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice (The Book of Discipline of The UMC 2016 ❡104).

And again:

As we open our minds and hearts to the Word of God through the words of human beings inspired by the Holy Spirit, faith is born and nourished, our understanding is deepened, and the possibilities for transforming the world become apparent to us (The Book of Discipline of The UMC 2016 ❡105).

So, let us come to God’s Word with an open mind and heart, let us seek to understand our mission in the world, and let us continue to search for answers to the things we do not understand.

Blessings!

-Alan


Click Here for this week's faith notes.


Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.

Trustworthy

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

2 Peter 1:19–21 (NRSV)


Fake News

A new term has entered our vocabulary this election cycle – fake news. Earlier some of called things like this urban legends, but now it has evolved. Fake news is news that is extremely partisan politically and misleading or false. An expert in this area has documented more than 50 websites completed devoted to fake news.

This news gets posted to Facebook, and people share it without even checking to see if it is real. This phenomenon can lead a breakdown of trust in all news. When we see a headline in any of our social media feeds, how do we know it is true? It can also erode trust in other areas as well.

Some people see the books of Scripture in a cynical way. Some people think the writers of scripture were putting out the ancient form of fake news or propaganda. How do we push past the cynicism to trust the Scriptures as the early Christians did?

Trustworthy

Seeing the Scriptures as trustworthy starts with our trust of God. We believe God is completely trustworthy primarily because of the testimony of others. It may seem like circular reasoning, but you must start somewhere. Other people can tell us about God’s faithfulness in their lives, and that leads us to investigate things for ourselves. We turn to Scripture and find that other people had found God trustworthy, even when things did not turn out right for them or when God did not do what they expected.

As we begin to investigate further, we discover that the text of the Scriptures was transmitted carefully and accurately. We look at other evidence from history or archaeology which confirms many of the things we read in Scripture. When we trust the things we can verify, we can trust the message it conveys.

Much of the witness of the Scriptures comes to us through eye-witness testimony. People, like you and me, saw, heard, and experienced things they were not expecting. They wrote those things down so we could experience them as well.

Throughout the history of the church, people have read the words of Scripture, trusted the God those Scriptures and testified that their lives were changed for the better. And not just their lives, but the whole world!

Sure, some people misunderstood the message, perverted the message and used for selfish ends, but that doesn’t change the trustworthiness of the message itself – it, in fact, confirms it. How do we know people misunderstood, perverted, and used the Word for self-serving ends? Because of the Scriptures. We can compare the actions of those people with what we read in Scripture and know that they got it wrong, sometimes very wrong.

In worship this week we will look at the trustworthiness of our Scriptures and explore different ways to see that they are worthy of our trust.

Blessings,

Alan


Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.

Relevant

Out with the old?

Often I hear the question, “What does a book written 2,000 years ago have to do with me? It's a sentiment many people express about the Bible. They just can’t understand how something that old could be relevant to their lives today.

It's a valid concern. We don't want to blindly follow a text that is old and may not have anything to do with us.

That question, however, reveals a certain chronological snobbery. Many think newer things are better, just because they are new. J-Other disciplines would never dream of holding that attitude. The discoveries of physics, mathematics or history build on one another. Imagine what life would be like if we had to discover math, astronomy, physics of history all over again in every generation. We would never make any progress because we would always be re-inventing the wheel (sometimes literally).

The ancient Romans knew this well. As a general course, in areas such as religion and philosophy the Romans viewed with suspicion anything new. Some even rejected the Christian faith because was a new religion. They trusted the time-tested truths and rejected novel ideas.

As much as we would like to think that we are more evolved, sophisticated and enlightened, we are not significantly different from humans who lived 4,000 years ago. The same moral issues that plagued them, still plague us today. Notice the list of vices in this passage:

Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

- 1 Corinthians 6:9–11

Do we still have problems with these issues? Of course - just turn on the evening news or browse the tabloids in your local supermarket. Would this be a better world if people refrained from those behaviors? Yes!

When it comes to the issues at the core of the human heart, the Bible is as relevant today as it was in the time of Moses or Jesus. What we need to do is find ways to apply its teachings to our lives.

Blessings!

-Alan


Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.

The Book

The Bible is the most read and best-selling book in the world. According to a 2012 article on the Business Insider website, 3.9 billion copies of the Bible were sold in the last 50 years. The next closest competitors are The Quotations of Chairman Mao (820 million) and the Harry Potter series (400 million). So, it is not a stretch to say the Bible is one of the most important books of all time.

Often, however, the Bible is sorely neglected by many of the people who claim to believe it. Why? Well, there are many reasons. Some do not think it is important. Others wonder if it is relevant. Still, others question whether it is trustworthy. But many simply do not understand it.

For the next few weeks, we are going to explore those questions and even try to answer some of your questions.

One of the most important passages regarding the importance of Scripture comes from Paul’s second letter to Timothy, one of his protégés.

All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17).

In the context of a first-century church. The scripture Paul refers to is what we would call the Old Testament because the New Testament was in the process of being written.

The Bible is important, as Paul says because it makes us competent and prepared for the good things God wants us to do. If we are to be competent and prepared, we should allow the Bible to teach us, reprove us, correct us and train us in our life with God.

Entire essays could be written on how the Scriptures accomplish each of those tasks but suffice it to say, God uses his word in those ways for the primary aim of preparing us for the work we are called to do.

"We are all called to lift up God through our words and actions as his people, or as Jesus put it, we are to let our good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise [our] heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16, NLT). Which fits nicely with our vision, “To Be a light to the Emerald Coast and beyond.”

Blessings,

Alan


Click Here to read this week's Faith Notes.


Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.