More Tweetables here.
More Tweetables here.
Like me, you’ve probably been disappointed by many books on the Old Testament. The covers look great, the titles sound enticing, and the blurbs appear exciting. But one chapter in and you’re beginning to flag. So boring, so academic, so impractical, and so suitable for your large pile of “read-one-chapter” books. So, how can you improve your chances of selecting a book on the Old Testament that will bless your life? Let me tell you six qualities I look for when I’m choosing books on the Old Testament for my own spiritual edification.
1. I want a reverent and diligent handling of the text of Scripture. For too long the Old Testament text has been treated with less respect than a daily newspaper. It’s been attacked, lampooned, and neglected, not just by those outside the church but also by many within it. So I want to be sure that an author views the Old Testament as the inspired Word of God, and then works hard to mine the maximum meaning out of each precious word.
2. I expect any interpretation to start with the original context and park there for a while. Many books and sermons seem to regard the Old Testament as something hot-off-the presses and addressed directly to 21st century culture. They fail to consider the original message to the original audience thousands of years ago and thousands of miles away. If you want to get on the wrong track immediately, and lead others astray, that’s a sure-fire way of doing it.
3. While accounting for the slow progressive unfolding of God’s truth over many years, the book should also portray that truth as having one clear and constant message. At times, some writers imply that God started with Plan A; and when that didn’t work He tried Plan B, then C, the D, etc. In other words, instead of seeing God’s message of a gracious salvation for sinners through the Messiah as one seed that gradually grows from root to shoot to stem to flower to fruit, they imply that God was forever starting over; planting then uprooting, replanting then uprooting, etc.
4. I look for a book that follows Jesus’ and His disciples’ example in using the New Testament to interpret the Old. I know of one Old Testament professor who refuses to allow any New Testament verse ever to be mentioned in his classes – kind of like studying with the lights off. Of course, we should not read into the Old Testament what was only known to those in the New; but as Christ and His apostles make clear, there was a lot more knowledge of the Gospel in the Old Testament than is usually thought.
5. The book must demonstrate that both Old and New Testament believers were saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. Was Old Testament faith as clear or strong? Did Old Testament believers see Christ as we see Him? Were Old Testament believers in possession of as much of the Holy Spirit? No, no, and no again. However, they did have saving faith, it was in the Messiah alone, and without the internal work of the Holy Spirit regenerating, sanctifying, indwelling and preserving them, they had no hope.
6. The book must apply the truth to the modern Church. Too many Old Testament books are addressed only to the head. They stop way short of connecting the truth to people’s hearts and lives. Worship, communion, obedience, and service are almost swear words to some writers.
Well, you’re probably thinking by now, “There aren’t many good Old Testament books like that around today, are there?” You’re right, I’m afraid. But I’m glad to announce that a new one has just been added to their ranks. It’s this book on the Tabernacle by my friend Danny Hyde. And what a rare treat it is to read!
This will be a great book for pastors and teachers who have been inspired by the wonderful resurgence of interest in the Old Testament, and especially of a Christ-centered understanding of the Old Testament, and yet open their Bibles at Exodus and Leviticus and wonder, “Eh, what do I do now?” Danny shows you, “Here’s how!”
But any serious Christian will also benefit from this book. It will not only open up previously undiscovered parts of the Bible, it will also show you the wonderful unity of the Scriptures from start to finish. Above all it will inspire you to seek communion with God through Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us.
From the Foreword to God in our Midst by Danny Hyde.
10 Reasons to Underprogram your Church
Jared Wilson calls for a much-needed reformation that could revive our churches and our souls.
Jeremy Walker recently did what he calls a “twinterview” with Tim Challies and me. It is an interview between two friends where neither is permitted to preview the other’s answers, collaborate, etc.
The Missional Mom
Mary Kassian: “I don’t see how leaving your nursing baby to travel half way around the world to nurse someone else’s baby is somehow more “missional” than staying home to nurse your own.”
What every woman wants men to know
As I’m about to address a bunch of teenage lads about what they should know about women, I found Kim’s angle refreshingly helpful.
Husbands, don’t treat your wife like a guy
On the other hand, Erik offers some helpful advice on what guys should know about women!
Read on, Baby!
Anthony Carter has some encouraging words for the slow readers among us.
More Tweetables here.
“The Old Testament is Law. The New Testament is Gospel.”
That seems to be the most common view of the relationship between the two Testaments.
Paul appears to confirm this in Romans 10 when he quotes Moses to illustrate attempts at salvation via law-keeping. “The man who does those things shall live by them” (Romans 10:5 quoting Leviticus 18:5)
That settles that then, doesn’t it.
Oh, wait, he quotes Moses again in the next verses to explain salvation by faith in Christ (Rom 10:6ff quoting Deuteronomy 30:12ff).
Either Moses and Paul are very confused; or we are.
I think I’ll take the safer option there.
Moses related Law and Gospel in the Old Testament in the same way as Paul did in the New.
Oh, and Jesus too! (Luke 10:28).
Can your body cause you to sin?
Phil Monroe answers “Yes,” but goes on to argue that we are still responsible. The second part of his answer is here. These are incredibly important questions and answers for pastors and counselors.
The Philippians of the Old Testament
Ecclesiastes? That’s what William Barrick argues in his Christian Focus commentary. I’m glad to have some allies in this growing campaign to reframe and rejuvenate Ecclesiastes. However, I also agree with Charles’ qualifications.
Christians making a difference
Joel Miller: “Whether it’s the political activism of the eighties and nineties or the social activism of today, Christians want to make a difference in the world. But are we starting in the right place?”
7 Characteristics of Advancing Leaders
A challenging list from a “Leader-watcher.”
The Obvious Secret to Viral Success
“‘The secret to [BuzzFeed's] viral success is to find stuff that’s already a minor viral success and make it better,’ Manjoo wrote. Repeat the process enough, and you’re bound to get a few mega-hits.”
5 Questions to Ask of a Book
Like Tim, I get asked to review a lot of books (though nowhere near as many as he does). I probably review 1 in 20, because if I said “Yes” to them all, I’d never get round to reading the books I want to read. Tim provides some good criteria here for deciding what to read/review. If you want to get my eyes, I’d draw your attention especially to the “bonus question.” If authors and publishers answered that honestly, we could save a lot of trees.