Slaves for Christ

A favorite teaching practice of many rabbis was the art of allegory.  All of the most famous rabbis were masters of this practice, and of course Jesus and Paul are no exceptions.  Paul used this technique often in his letters and knowing this is important to interpretation.  However, what happens when a master like Paul blends solid teaching about salvation and an allegory that would make perfect sense to his original audience?  We miss it, that’s what.  Let’s look at something that could possibly be underlying Paul’s teachings on slavery.

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The Call of the Prophets

If you were writing a letter to a friend, trying to convince him or her that some very supernatural events were real, what would you do?  I think that a probable course of action is to link it to something in reality to make it more believable and understandable.  You might also link it to the religion of your friend so that it fits into their worldview.  When Luke tells about Paul’s (the text still refers to him as Saul at that point) vision of Jesus (Acts 9) this is precisely what he does.

The Apostle Paul seemed to constantly be fighting an uphill battle in regard to his apostolic authority.  He writes in multiple letters about this topic because some doubted his authority, teaching, and even his motives.  One way for him to link his authority to Jesus, to the prophets, and to God was the retelling of his commission.  How did Paul use this true story to speak to the faithful?  Let’s dig in.

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Hey! You’re not allowed to do that!

If you’re like me, then even after you hagah (roar like a hungry lion and then devour) the scriptures, they’re still bouncing around in your head. After I posted the shorter version of this post I called my friend Bryan Nix and we shot ideas back and forth and in the process came up with some very cool links in these two passages and I wanted to share them.

The blog post that follows is almost all of the text of part 1, but much more in-depth.

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Paul’s Journey to Rome

Every time you read a Bible story, ask yourself: where else in the text can this story be found?  And also ask: how does knowing where this text is coming from help in my understanding of it?  The Bible frequently plays upon and expands upon itself.  Why is this relevant?  A substantial portion of the entire New Testament is written in this manner.  Time after time, Jesus uses the Tanakh (Old Testament) as a foundation for what he teaches and the stories he tells.

Join me today as we look at an interesting story in the New Testament which expands upon at least three other stories in the Bible!  Is this a story about Paul having a hard time getting from one place to another?  Or is there something deeper going on?

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Paul and Silas Sing it Out!

Over and over again in the New Testament it’s clear that the story has some basis in the Tanakh (Old Testament). Over and over again, when we do a little digging, we find that the all-important backdrop of the New Testament is found in the Tanakh. From the way people talk to the things they do, it’s all firmly rooted in God’s book.

A good example of this is in Acts 16.  When Paul and Silas are in prison, what they do there is no exception to this rule, and knowing what the backdrop of this story is helps to enrich it greatly! Continue reading

Face to Face with God

At the Prestoncrest church we have been going through a series on worship on Sunday mornings.  Gordon Dabbs, our preacher, has been doing an excellent job preaching this difficult subject.  Worship is something that has historically divided many churches, and is still an issue today.  Being of a much younger generation, I have never seen it as such a major issue, but I recognize the potential for Satan to use it to divide and conquer.

One key concept of worship that Gordon has been going over springs from how Jesus enables us to worship God face-to-face, without anything in the way.  In my own study and research I’ve found that this subject is a powerful image of the Hebrew culture.

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Paul’s Profanity

Tuesday, February 2, I started a year-long commitment to a discipleship group, mentored by Bob Chisholm, one of the ministers at my church.  It’s Bob and 3 guys, and he meets with 4 different groups each on a separate day of the week, at 5:30am.  So while I meet with him once a week, he meets with 4 groups of 3 every week, which I think is very cool because that’s 12 guys, just like Jesus.  Anyway, in our daily scripture reading I came across something incredibly fascinating that I just had to share.

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Paul on Grace and Works

This week my Tuesday night Bible class, The Jewish Context of the Bible, continued our discussion on famous rabbis.  This week we discussed Sha’ul (Saul/Paul).  You can find the audio on the website of Prestoncrest Church of Christ, or on my Audio Lessons page.

With Sha’ul, there is just too much to cover, and so I aimed at looking at him rabbinically.  In other words, looking at the things that Rabbi Sha’ul would have done and taught as compared to his rabbinic peers of the day.  Unfortunately, even with that narrowing of him, we ran out of time.  At the end I hit on this question: how does this new thing about grace through Messiah mesh with the Jewish lifestyle of following God’s Torah?  This was a major issue for him to cover, and so here now is my thoughts on one aspect of this multi-faceted issue.

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Whose Disciple are You?

My previous post, The Evangelical Collapse, surprisingly got some good reactions and reviews both from people telling me verbally as well as others in the blogosphere.  I had expected people to reject my ideas outright, but of course I might have been still viewing the post like it was written originally.  Or maybe people are ready for a real change in the way we do church?  I know that I am, and I’d like to think that more people out there are as well.  Lots of people read this blog now and I’ve seen many people have the same reaction: I should be a disciple of Jesus, not this half-hearted pew-warming learner I am now.  But when I mention discipleship and finding yourself a mentor and becoming their disciple, alot of people struggle with that.  Some will ask: “Aren’t we all disciples of Jesus?”  Sometimes even someone will bring up Paul in 1 Cor. 1:10-17 where he berates the Corinthians for dividing and saying “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” and etc, and use that as a reason against having human disciplers.  But I think that going down the path of “we’re all just disciples of Jesus” has led us (in part) to where we are today. Allow me to explain…

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