“Research Proves Using Big Words Makes You Look Dumb”

A Princeton Research Paper (I’m hoping the title of the paper is ironic) found that a majority of undergraduates admit to deliberately increasing the complexity of their vocabulary so as to give the impression of intelligence.

The paper also found that the strategy usually backfires as most readers said that they associated complexity of vocabulary or presentation with less intelligent authors!

Preachers, teachers, and students, take note!

As Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”


Check out

Short links today as I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with the response to the free $100 of resources to those who buy Jesus On Every Page before tomorrow. Normal service will (hopefully) be resumed on Monday.

6 Communication Mistakes That Limit Ministry Effectiveness

10 Suggestions For Engaging Our Culture With The Gospel

You Are Who You Eat With

The Power Of A Preface: Warfield on Kuyper

College Dorm Advice For Christian Students

How To Write Short

History of Christianity: The King James Bible

Treating Your Stomach For Depression


7 Reasons to Study Your Old Testament

On the basis of my less-than-scientific survey of Christians’ Bible reading habits, I would estimate that the Old Testament forms less than 10 percent of most Christians’ Bible reading. Remove the Psalms and Proverbs, and we’re probably down to less than 5 percent.

“So what?” many say.

“No great loss, is there?” others shrug.

Let me suggest seven reasons to stop shrugging and start studying the other 60 percent of our Bibles.

1. The Old Testament reveals Christ.

The Old Testament doesn’t just “point forward” to Christ; it reveals him. It isn’t merely a series of signposts to Christ; his revealing shadow falls on every page, exciting faith and love in believing hearts.

But why linger in the Old Testament shadows when we have New Testament sunlight?

Have you never found it easier to read and be refreshed in shade? Have you never admired the unique and wondrous beauty of the dawn?

Consider the unparalleled revelation of Christ’s substitutionary atonement in Isaiah 53. And although the Gospels describe Christ’s outer life, the messianic psalms disclose his mysterious inner life, the unfathomably deep emotional and mental struggles of his earthly suffering.

2. The Old Testament is a dictionary of Christian vocabulary.

How do we understand the theological words, phrases, and concepts of the New Testament? If we turn to a modern dictionary, we will import 21st-century Western meaning into ancient Eastern words. Greek lexicons will usually get us closer to the original meaning, but that still assumes the biblical authors were influenced exclusively by Greek culture.

Rather, when we come to a word, phrase, or concept in the New Testament, our first question should be, “What does the Old Testament say?” Remember, the New Testament was originally written by Jews, and much of it was written to Jews. It assumes knowledge of the Old Testament and builds upon it.

3. The Old Testament is a manual for Christian living.

While there is understandable debate over the continuing validity of a small percentage of Old Testament laws, there are 10 clear and unchanging moral principles that God applies in different ways in different contexts: to Israel in the wilderness (Exod. 20), to Israel about to enter the promised land (Deut. 5), and to Israel settled in the land (Proverbs). Jesus and the apostles continue this varied cultural application of these same 10 moral principles for their own generation (e.g. Matt. 5; Eph. 5). All these examples provide models for how to think about and apply these moral principles in our own day.

4. The Old Testament presents doctrine in story form.

God has not only given us laws; he’s given us lives. He’s incarnated his 10 moral principles in the lives of Old Testament characters, providing us with fascinating biographies to inspire and warn (1 Cor. 10:11; Luke 17:32).

We also see New Testament doctrines worked out in Old Testament believers’ lives: through typology we learn most about Christ’s priesthood from Aaron, kingship from David, and prophetic office from Moses. Abraham demonstrates justifying faith, Elijah portrays effectual and fervent prayer, Ruth and Naomi display the communion of saints, Job perseveres through the Lord’s preservation, and David exhibits how forgiveness and chastisement often go together. And it’s all in the vivid Technicolor and Dolby of flesh-and-blood humanity.

5. The Old Testament comforts and encourages us.

As we read the Old Testament narratives, we experience the beautiful comfort and hope that Paul promised would accompany such study (Rom. 15:4). We are comforted with God’s sovereign love, majestic power, and covenant faithfulness in his relationship with Israel.

When we know the Old Testament backgrounds of the “Hall of Faithers” in Hebrews 11, we’re encouraged to follow their Christ-focused faith and spirituality.

In the Psalms, we’re given songs that have comforted and encouraged believers throughout the world and throughout the centuries.

And when we see the way that hundreds of Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Christ, our faith in God and his Word is strengthened.

6. The Old Testament saves souls.

The apostle Paul had the highest regard for the Old Testament’s origin, nature, power, and purpose (2 Tim. 3:16-17). But the Old Testament wasn’t only helpful for Christian living; it gave Christian life. When Paul assured Timothy that “the Holy Scriptures [are] able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” he was speaking of the Old Testament (2 Tim. 3:15). Like the New Testament, the Old Testament also saved (and still saves) souls through faith in the Messiah.

7. The Old Testament makes you appreciate the New Testament more.

For all the Old Testament reveals of Jesus, and of Christian doctrine and experience, we must concede that it also conceals, that there’s a lot of frustrating shadow, that there’s unfulfilled longing and desire, that there’s often something—or rather someone—missing. The more we read it, the more we long for and love the incarnate Christ of the New Testament. The dawn is beautiful, but the sunrise is stunning.

This post first appeared at The Gospel Coalition.


Check out

Not Even a Hint
Kevin DeYoung challenges media habits: “Why is it OK to watch on TV what would be wrong to watch in real life?”

Four Principles for the Exercise of Christian Liberty
Sinclair Ferguson answers the vital question: “Can Christians eat black pudding?”

The Three Most Amazing Letters in the Bible
It begins with “B” and ends in “T.”

Duck Dynasty’s Cultural Christianity
Thomas Kidd raises a caution about this increasingly popular family show.

Oh Sweet Lorraine and Missing Hope
Tim Challies does a great job here connecting and contrasting two different experiences of marital bereavement.

The Underbelly of Hiring Leaders in the Christian Community.
So, so true.


The Original Message of the Old Testament Books

Yesterday we considered the most important question for interpreting the Old TestamentWhat was the original message to the original audience? Let me give some examples of what insights this question produces.

Genesis

Genesis was written by Moses to the Israelites who had just come out of Egypt and were wondering if they should have left after all.

Original Message: God’s power to create order and light out of disorder and darkness in the universe and in individual lives should encourage Israel to leave the disorder and darkness of Egypt behind them, and confidently move towards the order and light of Canaan.

Present Message: God’s power to create order and light out of disorder and darkness should encourage the new Israel (the Church) to leave the “old world of Egypt” (this present evil world) behind and move toward the “new world of Canaan” (new heavens and earth).

Exodus

Exodus was written a bit later than Genesis when Moses’ leadership was being continually questioned by the Israelites following him in the wilderness.

Original Message: Israel should continue to follow Moses because God clearly authorized him to be Israel’s deliverer, law-giver, and worship-leader

Present Message: The Church should continue to follow Christ’s fulfillment and application of Moses’ teaching because God clearly authorized him to be the Church’s deliverer, law-giver and worship leader.

Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy was written to the Israelites on the border of the Promised Land and reviews Israel’s history to encourage them to go and take the land God had given them.

Original Message:  Israel should renew their commitment to the God’s covenant under a new leader (Joshua) facing new challenges.

Present Message: The church should renew its commitment to the God’s covenant under a new leader (Christ) facing new challenges.

Judges

Judges was written to show what happened in Israel when there was no king in Israel but every man did what was right in his own eyes.

Original message: Israel should commit itself to the godly King of Judah for spiritual and social blessings on a personal and national level.

Present message: The Church should commit itself to the godly Judahite King (Christ) for spiritual and social blessings on a personal and national level.

Kings

The two books of Kings were written to Israel in Babylonian exile asking, “Why has God broken His covenant promise to us?” Kings demonstrates that far from breaking His covenant promise, God has kept it by punishing Israel with exile for her sins, and calls her to repentance.

Original Message: The nation deserved the exile, but restoration was possible through full repentance

Present Message: The Church deserves chastisement, but restoration is possible through full repentance

Chronicles

The two books of Chronicles cover the same period and stories as the two books of Kings, but they were written at the end of the Babylonian exile not the beginning. So, although they tell the same stories, Chronicles tells them in a much more optimistic, upbeat way. The emphasis is not on past sins, but past examples of faithfulness. The difference is due to different people, different times, and different purposes. Chronicles was written at the end of the exile when God was trying to encourage the Israelites to return to their land and to His blessing with these inspiring stories from their national past.

Original Message: Work for the restoration of Israel’s throne and temple to enjoy God’s blessing.

Present Message: Work for the restoration and rebuilding of the throne and church of God to enjoy God’s blessing.

Song of Solomon

The Song of Solomon was written to a people in covenant with God, whose spiritual relationship with God was often portrayed by Moses, the Psalmist, and the Prophets as a marriage.

Original Message: Enjoy God’s gift of love in every relationship, but especially in relation to Him

Present Message: Enjoy God’s gift of love in every relationship, but especially in relation to Christ.

I hope this sample encourages you to take this approach with other books, and parts of books. Some of these are adapted from Richard Pratt’s He Gave Us Stories, which is the go-to book for learning more about the original message of the Old Testament books.


Check out

Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
Video interview with my friend R.C. Sproul Jr., a dear brother who has regularly inspired me throughout the painful experience of losing his wife and daughter. And how wonderful that he’s gathered together all the lessons of these years in a new teaching series on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God.

On Being Black and Presbyterian
Beginning to look like R.C. Jr. appreciation day here. A challenging article on how to rid ourselves of racism. R.C.’s solution? “Believe reformed theology!”

The Drunkard’s Morality
“How can Mr. Kerry say this “defies any code of morality” when every day in his own country, with his approval, thousands of unborn children have chemicals used against them?”

Common Flawed Vessels
Paul Tautges encouraged me with this article which highlighted the flaws of each of Jesus’ disciples. “Clearly, we can see that there really was nothing special about these guys. There were no “big guns” in the group. No high-society influencers. No guys showing off “power ties” at their business meetings. They were just ordinary, run-of-the-mill kind of people. More than that, they had more flaws than you could shake a stick at. But they had something else—or should I say Someone—who made all the difference.”

6 Ways To Your Teacher’s Heart
PRTS students, please read!

The Brainy Benefits of Being Bilingual
Here’s an encouragement for Greek and Hebrew students.