Friday, April 27, 2012

How to do Proper Word Studies - Dr. Michael Brown

As loyal readers know, Dr. Michael Brown remains one of my favorite authors and biblical scholars. I recently reviewed his latest book, The Real Kosher Jesus and was blessed by its presentation of the gospel. In addition to a passion for the gospel and spiritual awakening, Dr. Brown is a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures and an accomplished scholar. One of his recent radio broadcasts gives guidelines and principles for "How to do Proper Word Studies." The information is highly practical, perfect for those who aren't professional Bible interpreters, and quite entertaining. You can listen to the broadcast below. I have distilled a list of principles, guidelines, tips, and recommendations below to help enrich and encourage illuminating word studies. Dr. Brown promised a follow up broadcast with more details on using specific resources, and both Israel's Divine Healer and Go and Sin No More feature in depth descriptions of how Dr. Brown went through specific word studies, which I may use in later posts.

How to do Proper Word Studies by Dr. Michael Brown (Line of Fire Broadcast)

Dr. Brown explains some of the important principles involved in doing word studies in the Hebrew and the Greek texts, also explaining some of the common word study fallacies. He will also take your calls on this important subject.

Hour 1:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: The Word of God is extraordinarily rich, a lamp to our feet, a light to our path, truth, and a tree of life. Take hold of it, feast on it, and you will find eternal life!

Hour 2:

Dr. Brown’s Bottom Line: The Word of God calls to me and you. Dig deeper and study more. Ask God to open your heart and mind as you get into the Scriptures, and to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that you would know Him better. There are treasures hidden there waiting for you!

Basic Principles for Word Studies

Hebrew and Greek are not magical languages. They are regular languages.

Every word has one meaning in one context. You can’t take the meaning of the word in one verse and apply it to other verses. There are times when an author will have a double meaning. There may be an intentional double meaning, but 99% of the time there is one meaning in one context.

Never go from the English back to the Greek or Hebrew. For example, the fact that we get the word “dynamite” from the Greek word “dunamis” does not actually tell us what “dunamis” means or how to interpret Scripture.

Roots can be misleading. How the word is used in the specific context and how an author uses a particular word in a book or across books is what is important.

Trust the translators. If you find the same choice across a number of translations, it is probably accurate. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth. It’s unlikely that you will be able to correct the translators or find a hidden or uncovered meaning unless you have been studying the languages for many years.

Compare translations.

Never use the dictionary in the back of Strong’s Concordance. It’s not always wrong but it’s often misleading, especially for the Hebrew. Much of the information is out of date or speculative. It is not really a dictionary; instead, it shows the different ways words are translated in the King James Version. Strong’s was meant to be a concordance. Many of the best dictionaries reference Strong’s numbers, so you can use Strong’s numbers to go to better dictionaries.

When looking up a Greek and Hebrew word, look at the word in all of the usages. Replace the word with a blank or with the Greek and Hebrew. For example, “The rock is hard. The test is hard. The desk is hard. The rock is ____. The test is ____. The desk is ____.”  Look at patterns in certain contexts.

Recommended Resources: If you are looking for solid software that anyone can use, Bibleworks is what Dr. Brown uses day to day for studying the text. He also recommends, PCstudybible, and Logos.

Recommended Books: New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis.

Free web resources: Youversion, Biblegateway.

21400: New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis 5 Volumes New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis 5 Volumes
By Willem A. VanGemeren, ed. / Zondervan
56208: New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Abridged One-Volume Edition New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Abridged One-Volume Edition
By Zondervan

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: The Real Kosher Jesus

The most influential Jew who ever lived. The most controversial Jew who ever lived.

He has been called a rabbi, a rebel, a reformer, a religious teacher, a reprobate sinner, a revolutionary, a redeemer. Some have claimed he was a magician, others the Messiah. Some say he was a deceiver; others say he was divine. Who is this Jesus-Yeshua, and why are we still talking about him two thousand years later?

Recently a prominent Orthodox Jewish rabbi presented a new version of Jesus, a “Kosher Jesus” that Jews can accept. By reclaiming Yeshua as a fellow Jew and rabbi, he has taken a very major and truly wonderful step in the right direction, but by re-creating Jesus, he has also robbed him of his uniqueness.

The Real Kosher Jesus takes you on a journey to uncover the truth. It is a journey filled with amazing discoveries and delightful surprises, a journey that is sometimes painful but that ends with joy, a journey through which you will learn the real story of this man named Yeshua: the most famous Jew of all time, the Jewish nation’s greatest prophet, the most illustrious rabbi ever, the light of the nations—and Israel’s hidden Messiah.

Dr. Michael Brown's The Real Kosher Jesus is a dynamic examination of the identity of Jesus within His rich Jewish context. Dr. Brown draws the reader into a progressive revelation of Jesus-Yeshua as a Jew, a rabbi, a prophet, a revolutionary and the long awaited and soon returning Messiah. The occasion of the book was the publication of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's book Kosher Jesus, which I have not read and will not be a part of this review, however The Real Kosher Jesus goes far beyond a narrow or temporary response to Boteach's work. This book, penned in only two and a half months, leads the reader into a discovery of who Jesus really was and is. The progressive revelation of Brown's writing, which manages to both build a case and present a journey, is consistently evangelistic and exceptionally powerful, presenting the beauty of Jesus as the truly Jewish Messiah.

While avoiding an academic or scholarly tone, The Real Kosher Jesus obviously has an enormous scholarly depth and foundation. Dr. Brown is probably the foremost Christian apologist to the Jewish people, authoring five volumes of Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, and he effortlessly draws from comprehensive source material. The book moves from Anti-Semitism and the Jewish response through Church history to the Jewishness of Jesus, the Jewishness of the Gospel, the Jewishness of Paul, and a distinctly Jewish path to discovering Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior, Lord, and Son of God. This journey contains vast amounts of revelation for the Christian as well as for the Jew and provides a fresh and vital presentation of the gospel. In reading the book, one feels that this was the progression of the gospel as it was meant to be revealed to the world through the Jewish people and nation. In all the fervor and momentum of the movement back to the gospel in the Church and publishing world today, I have never read a more passionate and more revealing description of the good news in the identity of Jesus.

Dr. Brown refers to Rabbi Boteach's book specifically a number of times and spends three chapters in specific refutation of Boteach's thesis. Having not read Boteach's book, I am unable to thoroughly weigh the argumentation; however, these chapters are immensely relevant without reading Boteach's book. They feature the most entertaining and humorous prose within the book and are also powerful reminders of the revolutionary nature of Jesus in both His spiritual militancy and His passionate non-violence. While Kosher Jesus was the occasion for The Real Kosher Jesus, my impression is that Boteach's work will not stand the test of time, while I hope to see this work endure through many editions.

The Real Kosher Jesus stands out as an exceptionally relevant and readable work of apologetics and theology. It is a prophetic cry both to the Jewish people and the Christian Church to discover the reality of Jesus as He is and as He revealed Himself to the world. It is not only the finest book on the identity of Jesus I have ever read; it is one of finest books on the gospel I have ever read. It has transformed my view of the revelation of God's love and redemption in Jesus-Yeshua.

My thanks to Charisma House for providing this complimentary review copy. I was not required to give a positive review. I have given an honest review.

360707: The Real Kosher Jesus: Revealing the Mysteries of the Hidden Messiah The Real Kosher Jesus: Revealing the Mysteries of the Hidden Messiah
By Michael L. Brown, PhD / Frontline

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Review: Miraculous Movements

How do the people most resistant to the transformative power of the gospel come to be its most devoted followers? Miraculous Movements recounts an amazing change taking place within Muslim communities where the truth of Jesus Christ is turning around the lives of many thousands of Muslims from more than twenty people groups. Discover through the sometimes humorous, often sobering, but always enlightening and encouraging true stories how imams, sheikhs, and entire mosques are forsaking Islam and embracing Christ.
This close look at what the Lord is doing to spread the gospel highlights the key scriptural principles that help Christians reach out in love to share the gospel in their own community. The authors outline the principle of service to others that open doors of opportunity to the work of the gospel.
Author Jerry Trousdale works with CityTeam Ministries, an organization dedicated to helping disciples make disciples through CityTeam’s own ministry and through training other ministries in more than thirty countries.

Miraculous Movements is an inspiring, powerful, and practical account of how God is transforming the Muslim world through the power of His Spirit and the multiplication of obedient disciples. Jerry Trousdale recounts story after story of God's miraculous intervention in the lives of ordinary Muslim men and women, transforming them into disciple-makers, intercessors, and church planters. These testimonies flow into an explanation of simple principles in making true disciples. These principles precede more examples of how God is using simple Discovery Bible Studies, story telling, and obedience focused discipleship to transform the world. Trousdale's book inspires as often as it instructs, highlighting the demonstration of the gospel and the power of God which has preceded and followed the discovery of simple obedience in disciple making movements.

Miraculous Movements is more than a description of how God is moving in Africa and more than a testimony of God's miraculous love and power, though it does describe and testify to these things; it is also an attempt to educate and persuade the reader of the power of simple obedience to a simple method. There are times when this persuasive tone diminishes the immensity of the testimonies that pervade the book, as Trousdale occasionally seems to attribute the work of God to the specific method employed, which he calls "disciple making movements." These movements focus on rapid replication and multiplication of believers, discovery Bible studies, and obedience based discipleship. The methods advocated favor relationships, mentoring, group discipleship, discovery, and obedience. The objective is to lead groups into discovery of the Bible and keep them accountable to actually obeying the Word of God. The result is 600,000 converts in the last six years.

Obedient disciples reproduce themselves. They preach the gospel. They pray. They seek the lost. They plant churches. They perform miracles because the Spirit of God follows the Word of God and proves its truth. While Trousdale seeks to distill the moving of God in Africa into a reproducible method, the simple truth is that Miraculous Movements is the story of simple men and women simply discovering the truth of the Bible and simply obeying it. Rather than analyzing the Bible, they do the Bible, and this turns the world upside down.

Miraculous Movements is a description of what true discipleship looks like and is a powerful testimony to God's faithfulness to those who obey His Word.

In the words of one of these humble African church planters:

In our experience, every Muslim who is given a Bible--especially those Muslims that are highly placed--they experience the Bible itself as the Word of God. There is power in the Bible. It is God-breathed. It will not return void. And that power just captivates Muslim leaders. It holds them bound.
[. . . .]
And the simplicity of the Bible--it is so simple. People have fooled us when they tell us that it is so complex, so difficult, but really it is so simple. I want to say that the power of the Holy Spirit is really the driving force when people are reading the Bible. (108)
While not perfect, this book is of immense value to the body of Christ and to every Christ follower. I hope it is the beginning glimmer of revelation that will catalyze the body of Christ and the Western Church into a focus on multiplication over enlargement and simple obedience over knowledge.

My thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing a complimentary review copy. I was not required to give a positive review, but an honest review.

Miraculous Movements Site

Interview with Jerry Trousdale Part 1
Interview with Jerry Trousdale Part 2

547288: Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love with Jesus
By Jerry Trousdale / Thomas Nelson

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Making Your own Scripture Index

Probably one of the most under-appreciated study tools is the simple scripture index at the back of books. For avid readers this tool provides a memory jog for the book's content and a useful reference for the author's commentary on certain passages. I find this extremely useful when reading and researching certain themes and for finding quotes on subjects from favorite authors. Unfortunately few books include scripture indices and it seems like fewer and fewer publishers (and or authors) are including them.

Scripture Indices generally occur in more theological works, which makes sense as these are most frequently  used as reference materials. However, more popular Christian authors and more practical Christian literature often touch on useful, accessible and uniquely communicated interpretations of Scripture and can often be rich mines for practical quotes and persuasive explanations of everyday theology.

In addition to being valuable as a research tool, Scripture indices can often reveal the depth of the biblical basis for the book. Surprised by the Voice of God by Jack Deere is both a practical book, explaining ways that God communicates to ordinary believers in ordinary life, but also apologetic and theological, providing biblical foundations for a sound theology of practical, subjective revelation and the continuance of the manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, either the author, the publisher, or both felt the need for a thorough Scripture index. The length of the index reveals that the basis of the book is biblical interpretation. Deere cites Scripture frequently and writes from Scripture, so even if one disagrees with the author's conclusions, it must be admitted that his theology is based on Scriptural interpretation.

Similarly, J.I. Packer's practical systematic theology, Knowing God, also includes a thorough Scripture index. This is also a deeply theological work but also a fairly accessible work. Packer's theology holds a lot of weight within evangelical and reformed circles and his interpretations of Scripture are valuable commentary.

Bible software libraries such as logos and libronix often feature filters that pull scripture references into indices and can create a Scripture index for an individual book as well as for an entire digital library. This is an enormous benefit; however, those of us who don't have access to that software must resort to more analog means of documenting scripture references. E-books are fairly easy to create indices for, since a simple search for colons will pull out references to verses (ctrl + f ":").

Paperback books require a more disciplined approach. Many books feature a few blank pages at the back; I often use these pages to record my own Scripture index. When a scripture is cited and commentary or interpretation is given, I take time to flip to the back of the book and record the Scripture reference followed by the page number. I ignore verses mentioned only in passing and focus on verses the author makes a significant comment on. I've been making Scripture indices in the back of my books for over a year, and I have found that it has helped me memorize popular verses, but also remember references better. It's more common for me to use a separate piece of notebook paper as a bookmark now, since it can be irritating to flip back and forth trying to write in the back and keep your place at the same time.

I haven't made a Scripture index for every book that I've read in the last year, but I've been diligent to do so for certain topics that I believe I will be studying for some time or books I will want to go back and glean quotes from. I began the practice because I was approaching a book and an author that I didn't trust, and I wanted to document the biblical foundation (or lack thereof) for the author's doctrine. To my surprise I wound up with five double column pages of scripture references. I walked away from the book impressed by the author's commitment to biblical interpretation and greatly informed about the topic. I did not agree with every interpretation presented, but on the whole, my study found that the author was on solid biblical foundation.

The practice was so fruitful that I've continued it. It has been an aid to memorization, basic Bible knowledge and familiarity with the locations of passages. In addition, it forces me to pause at every mention of Scripture, giving me time to think, "What does this Scripture really mean? Is the author interpreting correctly?" It also makes me aware of the author's foundation. As a whole I would recommend the practice, and I hope to continue and perhaps expand this practice to include every book I read. The Bible is the authority and all Christian literature should lead me into an encounter and re-encounter with Christ, His Word and sound doctrine.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Giveaway Winner April 2012

Congratulations to Stan van der Bek who won How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens. Please send your address to Biblereadingproject[at]gmail[dot]com.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Giveaway: How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens

How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus LensThis week I am taking off as solitary time for seeking the Lord, in lieu of other posts I will be giving away a copy of How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens by Michael Williams. You can view my review of the book here.

Enter by commenting on this post with your full name. If you post the giveaway on a blog, post a second comment with the link accompanied again with your full name for an extra entry. I will randomly select a winner on Monday April 16th and announce their name on the blog. If they do not contact me at biblereadingproject[at]gmail[dot com] within 5 days with their U.S. mailing address, I will post a second winner. Be sure to Subscribe or check back to see if you won. Tell all your friends.

Why give away books? It attracts new readers. It helps spread the messages and works that the Lord has used to inspire me in life and ministry. It helps spread passion and zeal for the work.  Many of the books will be ones I've received for free or extra copies that I have on hand, or simply books that I feel are important enough that they need to be disseminated to the body of Christ at large.

Happy Resurrection Day 2012!

He [Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 4:20-5:2

Up from the Grave He Arose (Low in the Grave He Lay)

Text: Robert Lowry, 1826-1899
Music: Robert Lowry, 1826-1899
Tune: CHRIST AROSE, Meter: 65.64 with Refrain

Low in the grave he lay, Jesus my Savior,
waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave he arose;
with a mighty triumph o'er his foes;
he arose a victor from the dark domain,
and he lives forever, with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch his bed, Jesus my Savior,
vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
he tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Message of Jesus (Newsletter)

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. -Acts 8:35

Philip was an evangelist, he was willing and ready to open his mouth and to proclaim the good news, and the good news he preached was Jesus. He didn’t preach philosophy, psychology, theology, doctrine, or a three point message. He preached the person of Jesus Christ. His authority was Scripture; his message was Christ, and his power was the Holy Spirit working through a yielded vessel. He was in the middle of what God was most interested in, and He was preaching the person God most wants to glorify.
Jesus remains God’s living message to the world. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the subject of foremost importance, the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He is the message of God to a lost and sin-sick world. He is good news. He is redemption, the precious love and will of God in human flesh. Our message is a person; the most wonderful, perfect glorious, powerful and loving person: God in the flesh.
God wants the world to know about Jesus. He wants them to know that He is like Jesus. He wants to tell them about His love, His forgiveness, His goodwill towards men, His salvation from sin, His kindness, His grace, His life. He wants to tell them about Jesus. He wants to tell them that now is the day of salvation, for all who call on the name of Jesus. This is the message we have been entrusted with. This is the message that dwells within us: Christ the hope of glory.
The world is desperate and hopeless. People are confused and afraid. Their lives are filled with problems, hurts, and wounds. They need to be healed. They need to be forgiven. They need hope. They need peace. They need life. Jesus has those things, and he wants to give them to the world. This is the wonderful news we bring. This is the life-giving good news. We have a wonderful Jesus who stepped down out of eternity and into time. He took the body of an infant and became a servant of the world. He gave His life as a sacrifice. He entered human suffering. He was pressed on all sides by human need. He gave Himself to the sick, the dying, the lepers, the sinners, the prostitutes, the downtrodden, and the guilty because He loved them and because He took on Himself the sin and the suffering of us all. He laid His pristine glory aside and touched the diseased, the hideous, the tormented, and the defiled, and when He touched them, He took their suffering. And on the cross He took their sin and their punishment. The world doesn’t know this. They must know. They must be convinced of Christ’s beauty, His glory, His wonderful goodness, and His love for mankind. God wants to convince them. He has the power to convince them. He is waiting for willing vessels His Spirit can work through.  
Jesus was a message to the world; He shows the world what God is like. He shows the world that God is love. He shows the world that He forgives them, that He offers them peace, that He offers them life, that He offers them grace. Humanity knows that it needs these things. The hearts of all men and women yearn for forgiveness; they yearn for love, for peace. They yearn for Jesus. They want to know that they can receive forgiveness. They want to know that they are loved by God. They want to know that they can have life. The good news is that they can. Jesus took their sin, their shame, their suffering and His arms are open to receive His creation and the desire of His heart. It sounds too good to be true, too good to believe, but Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to the earth to convince the world through His power. He has sent us, His children who are fully persuaded of the love of God and clothed with power from on high to demonstrate life to the world. May Christ be our message and our life.

Read the rest of the April 2012 Newsletter

Free Francis Chan Books

I know everyone already has multiple copies of all of Francis Chan's books lining their shelves or stashed in their e-reader (at least judging from the bestseller lists).

But if, like me, you don't, now is your chance to download all of Francis Chan's ebooks for free. EChristian is offering all of Francis Chan's books for free in the epub format. This offer is only being offered for 48 hours so head over and get them now.