Psalm 119 Assignment – Trials

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Trials

22Take away from me scorn and contempt, for I have kept your testimonies.
23Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.
39Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good.
46I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame,                                                                                                                             50This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
51 The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
61Though the cords of the wicked ensnare me, I do not forget your law.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.
69 The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
70their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.                                                                                                                                                                              71It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.
78Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
                              82My eyes long for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
83For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes.
84 How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me?
85 The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law.
86All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me!
95The wicked lie in wait to destroy me, but I consider your testimonies.
107I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word!
109I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law.
110The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commandments of my God.                                                                                                                    116Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!                                                                                      117 Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!
118You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain.
119All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies.
121I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors.
122Give your servant a pledge of good; let not the insolent oppress me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts.
139My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words.
143Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight.
                                                                                                            153Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law.
157 Many are my persecutors and my adversaries, but I do not swerve from your testimonies.
161 Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words.

 From the Trial verses in Psalm 119 I can see trials are manifest in many different ways: scorn, contempt, reproach, shame, affliction, derision, indignation, persecution and oppression. From the Trial verses in Psalm 119 I can see that the Psalmists rely on God’s word to sustain them through trials, because almost every verse begins with the trial, then points to the strength of God to overcome the trial. From the Trial verses in Psalm 119 I learn about the Psalmists’ place of refuge being God’s commandments, statutes, word, rule, testimonies, and law. I can incorporate this into my study by coming to a better realization of the trials I face as a follower of Christ. I can incorporate this into my study by acknowledging the range of trials the Psalmists experience to gain better awareness of what will come. I can incorporate this into my study by noticing the different types of communication by God and seeking to come to a better appreciation of the Psalmists value of they types. Finally, I can see that I should always run to God and his word in times of trial as the Psalmist states repeatedly. The goal is not to run from trial, but to run to God in the midst of trial.

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Psalm 119 Assignment – Prayer

January 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Prayer

5Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
7I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
12Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!
13With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth.
17 Deal bountifully with your servant, that I may live and keep your word.
18Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
19I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
25 My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
26When I told of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes!
29Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!
33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.
49Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
57 The LORD is my portion; I promise to keep your words.
58I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
62At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules.
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of your steadfast love; teach me your statutes!                                                                                                                                       65You have dealt well with your servant, O LORD, according to your word.
66Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments.
68 You are good and do good; teach me your statutes.
73 Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
76Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
77Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
88In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.
102I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.
103How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
106I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules.
108Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules.
124Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.
125I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies!
135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.
144Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.                                                                                                                    145With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
146I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.
147I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
164Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.
169Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word!
170Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word.
171My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes.
172My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.

From the Prayer verses in Psalm 119 I can see that I can pray in many different ways: praise, pleading, declaration, crying out, calling, pouring, and singing. From the Prayer verses in Psalm 119 I can see that I can make many different types of request: let me not wander, teach me, give me understanding, be gracious, accept my praise, let me cry come before you. From the Prayer verses in Psalm 119 I learn about the Psalmists’ value of God’s commandments, statutes, word, rule, testimonies, and law. I can incorporate this into my study by using the different ways of going to God, not limiting myself to a preconceived idea of what “prayer” is. I can incorporate this into my study by utilizing the range of requests the Psalmists make to God. I can incorporate this into my study by noticing the different types of communication by God and seeking to come to a better appreciation of the Psalmists value of they types. Finally, I can move toward the continual, repetitive and persevering nature of the Psalmist in his communication with God.

Psalm 119 Assignment – Meditation

January 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Meditation

2Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,                                                                                                                                   6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.                                                                                                                            11I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
15I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
16I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.                                                                                                                                                                           20My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
24Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
30I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
31I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.
45and I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts.
47for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.
48I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love, and I will meditate on your statutes.
52When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.
54Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
55I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law.
59When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;
74Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.
78Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.                                      81My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word.
93I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
94I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.                                                                                                                                                                                     97Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.
98Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.
99I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.
100I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
111Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
112I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.                                                                                                                                                              114You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.
123My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
128Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right; I hate every false way.                                                                                                                                        130The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.
131I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments.
140Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.
141I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
148My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
165Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
166I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments.
172My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.
173Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
174I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.
176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.

From the Meditation verses in Psalm 119 I can see that I can meditate in many different ways: eyes fixed, store up, delight, remembering, hope, and longing. From the Meditation verses in Psalm 119 I can see that instead of making requests, the Psalmist uses meditation to focus on God. From the Meditation verses in Psalm 119 I learn about the Psalmists’ value and adoration of God. I can incorporate this into my study, but using the different ways of going to God, not limiting myself to a preconceived idea of what “prayer” is. I can incorporate this into my study by utilizing reflecting on the joy, delight, peace, love, and hope the Psalmist receives through God’s word. Finally, I can remember and practice that mediation for a Christian should center on understanding and delighting in God’s word.

New Covenant Theology: Description, Definition, Defense. By Tom Wells and Fred

January 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

Review by Thomas R. Schreiner

Summary by Jason P. Case

New Covenant Theology occupies a place between the discontinuity of dispensationalism and the continuity of Covenant theology. This review of New Covenant Theology by Dr. Thomas Schreiner examines a new movement within Reformed circles of the relationship between Old and New Testament, law and gospel, old and new covenant. “New Covenant Theology argues that scriptures should be interpreted in light of their eschatological fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Covenant theology emphasizes the continuity between OT and NT, that the moral law is normative for today. Dispensationalism stresses the discontinuity between the old covenant and the new. The hermeneutical principle of NCT emphasizes that the Mosaic Covenant ended with the coming of Christ. New Covenant Theology believes that the Sabbath is no longer binding upon believers, while Covenant Theology sees the Sabbath as normative for today.

Wells and Zaspel, the authors of the book, clearly have an interest in a proper understanding of the law and its relevance for Christians today. They rightly teach that the “law reaches its eschatological fulfillment in Christ and points to Christ.” They also state that the discontinuity between the OT law and the NT law. Wells and Zaspel also contend that Matt: 5:21-48 teaches the law of Christ is superior to and brings an end to the specific Mosaic statutes addressed in the verses, but Schreiner is less convinced.

Schreiner is critical of the little discussion provided of the Mosaic Covenant in its OT context; we are not given much help in understanding the role of the Mosaic Covenant as a whole. Schreiner adds that in the future a key issue will be to explicate in what sense the Mosaic Law is gracious and in what sense it leads to death. Schreiner is also critical that Wells and Zaspel sometimes strain to emphasize the discontinuity between the OT law and the law of Christ in order to emphasize the newness of what has come in Christ. Schreiner commends their stance that moral norms for believers are summed up in Christ’s law, and that the Mosaic Covenant has been both abolished and fulfilled with the coming of Christ.

The article concludes with a warning that creeds can hinder one from engaging in biblical theology even though some matters in our creeds are non-negotiable, others are less important. Schreiner concludes that in his mind Wells and Zaspel are basically correct, but further discussion and study is encouraged.

Exodus 32 as an Argument for Traditional Theism, JETS. Jonathan Master

January 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summary by Jason P. Case

 

Persistent charges against traditional theists – of a lack of honesty and fidelity to the biblical text – are ones which evangelicals must take seriously. Open theologians consistently assert that traditional theism ignores Exodus 32. This article was written by Jonathan Master, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in New Jersey. Master sets up the argument for a traditional interpretation of Exodus 32 by highlighting the exegetical patterns that emerge in Exodus 1, Exodus 2-15, and Exodus 15-34. After this background information Master conducts an exegetical analysis of Exodus 32.

 

In Exodus 1, the continuity between creation and promise themes is a focus, along with God’s goodness to his people in slavery shown by how they multiplied greatly. Even Joseph stated repeatedly in Exodus 45 that God was working to preserve and bless his people. In Exodus 2-15, Moses, the human deliverer is introduced. God is presented as Creator, not thwarted in his plans, and Moses as his chosen mediator. In Exodus 6 God connects his name to the fulfillment of the land promise. Moses repeats this theme in Exodus 32, his theology built upon the dual notions of the promise of land and the holiness of God’s name.

 

In the dialogues in Exodus 7 God reveals that Pharaoh will not listen, because his heart will be hardened. In this God reveals himself and his nature within the context of dialogue and there is no hint that Pharaoh can thwart God’s plans. The plagues are used to underscore creation run amok and the powerlessness of humans in the work of redemption. God’s foreknowledge and mind control over enemies are two important insights given in Exodus 14. In chapter 15, Moses having experienced God’s redemption first-hand can confidently assert the nation’s inheritance of the Promised Land.

 

The narrative of a redeemed people emerges in Exodus 15. The Law is introduced in Exodus 19. Exodus 31 ends with a discussion of Sabbath – both the goal of the Law and goal of creation. The Law must be seen as given to a redeemed nation for the special purpose of inheritance of the Promised Land. At this point God has been introduced as Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer and Provider. Israel’s response is failure, sin. He is also the God who forgives and remembers (590). Openness exegetes fail to examine this passage in light of its context.

 

The message of Exodus 32 is failure, deciding based on what is seen rather than what they’ve heard from God (591). Even as the Law was revealed, the people were engaged in breaking it in the most basic and fundamental way. The question becomes what is the mechanism by which a holy and just God can still carry out his promises amidst the disobedience of his redeemed people? Moses’ appeal, Moses reminds God of his previous statements and acts. Moses does not appeal on his own merit, or to the Lord’s affection for him, but to the promises that God himself had made to his chosen nation (593).

 

Open-theists prefer to argue that God cared enough about Moses’ opinion and friendship to change his previous condemnation and promise of judgment, however there is no evidence for this. Moses gave God no new information, so the reason for God’s mercy was the repentance of the people. Also, the Lord punishes those who disobeyed his command. Far from supporting open theism, Moses understood forgiveness for repentance, and substitutionary punishment (594). God was showing mercy rather than a change of mind. Moses’ extensive pleading, as well as God’s own pronouncements of judgment, were necessary to communicate the seriousness of sin (597). Master concludes by listing three ways open-theists have simplified the text: 1. they fail to consider Exodus as a whole, 2. they have misunderstood the nature of God’s statements – “repent” and 3. God’s words to Moses were not to be viewed as unchanging promises, but rather as expressions of divine displeasure and righteous anger.

Open Theism: An Introduction. Ashton Wilkins

January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summary by Jason P. Case

God does not know the future…” Openism proclaims a different god than the God of the scriptures, it denies God’s foreknowledge and threatens other Christian doctrines and is spreading quickly. The article was a modified version of a talk given by Ashton Wilkins delivered to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 2002. No information is given about Ashton Wilkins. The article gives an overview of open theism, a defense against proof-texts that are used to support open-theism, and ends with scripture that is incompatible with open-theism.

 

Open-theism claims that the future is open and therefore no one – not even God – can know what the future holds. Openism proclaims that God has very limited and uncertain knowledge of the future, but openists believe most every other traditional doctrine. Openism claims that God’s highest goal in creating us is to enter into a loving relationship with us. They believe that true love needs risk in order for it to be real. Therefore, God does not know if we will choose to love him or not. Wilkins ends this section by warning that this teaching is very dangerous, it limits God to the point of proclaiming a false god and it is spreading fast (3).

 

Wilkins then presents the three major Bible verses openists use to defend their theology and one philosophical argument. He starts with the philosophical argument which focuses on the relationship between God’s foreknowledge and human free will. Openists believe true love implies risk, and that furthermore love implies free will, and that free will is impossible if God knows the future.

 

Genesis 6:5-6, Genesis 22:10-12 and Jeremiah 3:6-7 are the three most popular proof-texts used by openists. Genesis 6:5-6 says the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart, and that God regretted making humankind because God did not foresee that humankind would become wicked. Genesis 22:10-12 says, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Jeremiah 3:6-7 “Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she way a harlot there. I thought, ‘After she has done all these things she will return to Me’; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it (4).”

 

Wilkins answers the open-theism arguments in the remainder of the essay. “Our moral responsibility is not dependent on whether we have power to choose other than what God has foreknown and decreed (5).” In defense of Gen. 6:6, clearly did foreknow that man would fall into sin (1 Cor. 1:18-2:8). Genesis 6:6 means that God is saddened by sin. Genesis 22 is a metaphor when it states God “learning” or “coming to know”, it doesn’t mean God was literally ignorant of something and then learned about it. As history unfolds God enters into an experiential awareness and communicates his experiential knowledge in a metaphor. Even if taken literally the passage shows God as ignorant of the present, not the future. Jeremiah 3:6-7 is a metaphor for God’s interaction with his people. It communicates that God knew from the moment he chose Israel that she would reject him, and he knew Israel would serve idols. God can’t be ignorant of whether or not Israel will serve idols because Jeremiah himself prophecies that God controls his people’s hearts, directing them away from idols.

 

Wilkins follows with a section on scriptural themes incompatible with open-theism. Openism is incompatible with Messianic prophecies in the OT. Openism is incompatible with the many verses that say God foreknows the future events of the world. Openism is incompatible with verses in the Bible that say that what makes God God is that he knows the future – and false gods do not know the future.

 

In conclusion, Wilkins warns that openists do not worship the God of the Bible and to stay on alert for people who teach that the future is open and that God lacks foreknowledge.

Melanchthon as Interpreter of the New Testament, WTJ. Robert L. Plummer

January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Summary by Jason P. Case

Irresponsible quotation … has typecast Melanchton as thinking Paul presents the reader of Romans with a full presentation of Christian doctrine. Dr. Robert Plummer’s essay is an investigation into whether modern NT scholarship has represented Melanchton accurately. The essay is light on background regarding Melanchton which is a disservice to the lay reader, but thankfully Wikipedia is a few key strokes away and tells us that Melanchton was once Preceptor of Germany and was a German reformer who lived in the early 1500s and was a collaborator of Martin Luther. The article centers around this famous compendium quote of Melanchton and then attempts to use other background material as an assessment whether this quote is an accurate depiction of Melanchton’s hermeneutical approach.

Plummer articulately points out that it is a travesty of modern scholarship references and citations are often made in haste, undocumented and sometimes without merit. A closer look at Melanchton’s compendium quote reveals that he is contrasting Paul’s discussion of the more pragmatic aspects of the Christian’s experience (law, sin, grace) with more systematic theology subjects (2). Melanchton asserts that Paul addresses practical matters of daily life as opposed to abstract doctrines. Plummer adds two caveats that should be made when using the compendium quote to explain Melanchton’s hermeneutic: 1. the quote is taken from the reformer’s systematic theology rather than from one of his commentaries on Romans and 2. the reference to Romans is missing from later editions of Loci, thus Melanchton himself may have been uncomfortable with possible misunderstanding (3).

Plummer then discusses Melanchton as a New Testament commentator. Melanchton wrote prior to the rise of the critical method and its historical consciousness and was most concerned with the application of biblical text. Melanchton argued that one must understand the author’s purposed in writing to discover this enduring value of a biblical book (3). Melanchton’s commentary on Romans is a prime example of employing his knowledge of classical rhetoric. In Melanchton’s view the two major propositions of Romans are that: 1. Sin exercises universal dominion over humanity and 2. God justifies unmeriting sinners by faith (4). Romans remains an occasional letter to Melanchton as he repeatedly notes Paul’s context. Melanchton’s quotation elsewhere shows that authorial intention is very important.

Plummer now moves into an evaluation of Melanchton’s rhetorical hermeneutic before concluding the essay. Melanchton does not blindly apply classical rhetoric to every biblical text. In fact Melanchton finds the three standard categories of forensic, epideictic, and deliberative rhetoric inadequate to describe Romans (6). Melanchton’s rhetoric was most interested in speaking correctly and elegantly. He even proposed a fourth category called genus didascalicum. Melanchton shows his openness with a new rhetoric through his positing new terms, abandoning rhetorical schemes when not helpful and looking to the OT as a pattern for Paul’s speech (7).

Plummer concludes that by examining the actual writings and secondary studies more carefully we discover Melanchton is more exegetically sophisticated than the simplistic misinterpreter of which he is typecast. He treats Romans as a presentation of the gospel and presents the major themes of Romans accurately.

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