Archive for the 'Johannine Epistles' Category

The Johannine Epistles (Day 5)

picAs I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I have been completely “Geeking Out” over this whole 1 John class (you could say I’ve been “Greeking Out”), so my friend Dave Torres and I decided to get a picture with Dr. Yarbrough to for street cred on the heights of our “Geekiness” Smile.

Today’s class was much the same as yesterday’s. We opened up 1 John in our Greek New Testaments and kept working our way through it. One of the passages that we looked at was 1 John 3:21-22 – “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him; because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” As we reasoned through the text Dr. Yarbrough pointed out that many believers will despair upon reading a text like this, because on face value it seems to promise that whatever you ask in prayer you will automatically receive. The despair sets in when you ask for something, especially something good like the healing of a child or for a friend to get saved, and that doesn’t happen. One is left wondering how John can make a statement like this when God’s answer to prayer is often times “no”.

Dr. Yarbrough pointed out that it’s important to remember that we can’t allow ourselves to use only one verse to develop our theology of prayer. We must look to the whole of John’s writings to find out what all he believes about prayer. One of the most important tests for any theology of prayer is the “Gethsemane Test.” It’s easy to forget that Jesus prayed for something in Gethsemane (to be spared the agony of the cross) and that His request was denied. We must also put our theology of prayer through the “Judas Test”. Jesus wrestled with God all night in prayer when he chose the 12 disciples and he still chose Judas who would betray Him. The point is that God doesn’t always give us what we ask for in prayer, what He gives us in prayer is Himself. You see, prayer is not about getting something from God it is about communion with God. Certainly part of that communion is a reasoning with God in prayer, even a wrestling with God in prayer. We are to enter the throne room of God with boldness to make our requests known to Him, but at the end of it all we are to follow Jesus example in Gethsemane where he prayed “Not my will but yours be done.”

Friday is the last day of class for me as I’ll be heading back up to Cool in the afternoon. I’ve been especially blessed to sit under Dr. Yarbrough for these past few days and revisit the book of 1 John. But all good things must come to an end and it is definitely time for me to get back home.

January 11 2013 | Johannine Epistles | 1 Comment »

The Johannine Epistles (Day 4)

greek-bible-pharmakeia1One of the pleasant surprises about Winterim this year has been the focus on the Greek text of 1 John. Everyday class starts with a short devotional from Dr. Yarbrough and then a series of presentations from different students (thankfully as Alumni I am exempt from this procedure) that work through the Greek text one word at a time. To be honest, I’ve been totally “Geeking Out” over the whole thing, because it’s been such a long time since I’ve been in this kind of a classroom environment. Most people would fall asleep listening to the declension, parsing, lexical work, etc. on every verse of 1 John but I have been riveted by the whole thing.

Part of what makes Biblical Greek so fascinating is how important every single nuance of the language is. Take 1 Jon 3:5 for example. The ESV says, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins…” While this sounds like awkward English, it’s exactly what the Greek text says. You see, it isn’t just that Jesus came to take away sin (singular) as a general category or a large mass of stuff that we call sin, it’s far more specific than that. When it says that Jesus came to take away our sins (plural), it means that He has taken away every single one of our individual sins. In other words, whatever individual acts of sin that we have ever committed or will ever commit have already been “taken away” by the precious Lord Jesus and therefore we stand uncondemned.

January 09 2013 | Johannine Epistles | 1 Comment »

The Johannine Epistles (Day 3)

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of the people who have made this class possible for me. First of all, I need to thank my wife for freeing me up to travel all the way down here for this ministry. Second, I need to thank my Mother In-Law (Alleen) for coming up and helping take care of the kids in my absence. Thirdly, I need to thank Cool Community Church for granting me the time to come and study in this capacity. Finally, I need to thank my Aunt Jo for putting me up for another week in her home near the seminary. She really is a treasure!

Today was a rich day, full of many insights. Here are just three:

1) In Order to Commune with God we Must Meet Three Criteria: Doctrine, Morality & Love. John spends much of the book focusing his readers attention on three aspects of true godliness (communion with God): doctrinal faithfulness, moral uprightness and deep seated love for God. In order for someone to commune with God, to have fellowship with God, he must be doctrinally faithful, morally upright and he must abide in God (love God). In other words, it’s not enough for a man to be doctrinally orthodox but morally suspect. In this condition, he cannot have fellowship with God (know God). Furthermore, even if a man is doctrinally orthodox and morally upright (no obvious sins in his life), if he does not possess a deep seated love for God, he can not know God and he cannot have fellowship with God. This is what makes this third aspect of godliness so difficult, it is a living category. Doctrine can be learned and morality can be attained, but love…well love is different…love must be experienced…love must be felt. But, if we do not have a love for God than the truth is that we do not know Him.

2) The Importance of Faithful Pastoral Ministry. This is a little bit off the beaten path of 1 John, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and Dr. Yarbrough really helped me to see it today. Of course, I’ve always known that pastoral ministry is important but I think I’m learning to appreciate more of the gravity of the pastoral office. You see the pastor is more than someone who does a job, he is a symbol of the stability of a congregation. For many in the church, the pastor is the most direct link to God in their lives. In other words, he makes God real in people’s lives because he comes with flesh and blood representing the King. What follows from this insight is the importance of long term faithfulness in pastoral ministry. Most real growth in a church happens over the long haul as a result of faithful ministry; it isn’t flashy, it isn’t  exciting, it isn’t really explicable, it just happens.

3) The Danger of the Academy. Dr. Yarbrough pointed us to a poem that is quoted by Leon Morris in his NICNT commentary on the Gospel of John in which he quotes Mansfield:

The Trained mind outs the upright soul

As Jesus said the trained mind might,

Being wiser than the sons of light,

But trained men’s minds are spread so thin

They let all sorts of darkness in;

Whatever light they find they doubt it,

They love not light, but talk about it.

It took me forever to hunt this quote down on the internet, but it was worth it because it is such a good reminder to me that the point of academics is to love the light.

January 08 2013 | Johannine Epistles | Comments Off on The Johannine Epistles (Day 3)

The Johannine Epistles (Day 2)

960b83c436e34f5ea4a1e5c7e6d5191eWell it’s official, Cool has got to get a Starbucks! It really is the best way to get your day started. I know that because that’s how I started my day and it was marvelous. After picking up my hot cup of coffee and heading down to the seminary via a very questionable route provided to me by Siri I arrived just in time to get myself setup and ready for the class.

There isn’t enough time (or space) to relate everything that I learned today, but here were some of the highlights for me from today’s class.

1) I was struck by the fact that Dr. Yarbrough took nearly an hour out of class to get to know us, ask questions about us and to pray for us. For me, it showed a tremendous amount of sensitivity and pastoral care that he would take time to get to know and to pray for his students.

2) I was encouraged at how much Greek I have retained and at my ability to interact with the text on a critical level. Every seminary student graduates and vows to keep up with their Greek, but somehow in the hustle and bustle of life…well, we just tend to forget. Today was a real encouragement to me that I have kept up on my Greek pretty well. I even passed a vocab quiz that I hadn’t even studied for!

3) There is much discussion about the origin of the first letter of John and even more discussion about who he was writing against in this letter (i.e. Docetism), but all of this really misses the point. This is a letter about God, more specifically it is a letter about communion with God (fellowship). 1 John is a testimony to what John experienced in his fellowship with the Son and an application of that fellowship to his readers.

4) If you could only pick one thing that 1 John is about it would be 1 John 1:5 – “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

5) John wrote five books of the New Testament (John, 1-3 John and Revelation). Church history tells us that John lived in Jerusalem until the mid 60’s when he and the rest of the apostles left the city in anticipation of the coming judgment against the city by the Romans. John ended up moving to the city of Ephesus where he oversaw the Ephesian church as well as the six churches that surrounded Ephesus (same seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3). It’s entirely likely that the intended recipients of 1 John were in this cluster of churches, or possibly the entire cluster.

6) Sometimes being adventurous pays off…and sometimes it doesn’t. I decided to be very adventurous tonight and find a sushi place to see if I could develop a taste for it…suffice to say that I didn’t. I think I’ve realized that the only kind of sushi I like is fried in someway, but apparently that’s offensive to ask for when you go to a nice sushi place Smile.

Not only is Starbucks the best way to begin your day, but as I sit here sipping my Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte I am equally convinced that it is a superb way to end your day. Needless to say, I will be back.

January 07 2013 | Johannine Epistles | Comments Off on The Johannine Epistles (Day 2)

The Johannine Epistles (Day 1)

book-coverI suppose that it’s a little bit of a misnomer to call this Day 1 of my class on the Johannine Epistles since all I’ve done for the class is to travel to my Aunt Jo’s house in Los Angeles, but my intention in this series of posts is to share something of the experience that I’m having along with some of the nuts and bolts of what I’ll be learning.

I left the house at 2:00pm this afternoon and got down here around 10pm, which gave me about 8 hours in the car to listen to an audio book by Dr. Russell Moore called Adopted for Life. I’m not sure what I can about this book, except that I believe it’s a book that every Christian needs to at least look over. I’ll be purchasing it for our church library right away and encouraging people to check it out as quickly as possible.

As you can imagine, Adopted for Life is a book about adoption but it’s so much more than that. Dr. Moore offers good, practical advice about the process of adoption but the greatest strength of the book is how he relates adoption directly to the gospel and our adoption into God’s family.

As I was listening to the book driving down the freeway a thought occurred to me that I’m still wrestling through, here it is: The Bible is absolutely clear that God is a father to the fatherless, he pleads the cases of widows and orphans, he defends the weak, he binds up the broken hearted and he has a special place in his heart for orphans. If all of these things are true of God, than the question needs to be asked, “How is God a father to the fatherless?” “How does he defend the weak?” “How does he bind up the broken hearted?” “What does God’s fatherly care look like in practical, tangible terms in the hear and now?” I believe that the answer is that God cares for orphans, he fulfills his responsibilities as a father to the fatherless by sending fathers to adopt the fatherless.

I’m still working through some of the implications of what this means for me and my family, but it has helped to clarify my thinking tremendously.

I’ll be changing gears tomorrow to start thinking about 1 John, but right now it’s time for bed.

January 06 2013 | Blog and Johannine Epistles | Comments Off on The Johannine Epistles (Day 1)

Blogging Through Winterim 2013

After church this morning I’m going to hop into my car and drive down to Van Nuys for a week long class at The Master’s Seminary. One of the perks of being alumni from TMS is that I can audit classes at the seminary for free, including their Winterim class offered each January. Winterim is a week long intensive class taught by a distinguished scholar on his field of study. This year, that scholar is Dr. Yarbrough of Wheaton College and the subject matter will be the Johannine epistles.

Here’s the description of the class and a summary of Dr. Yarbrough’s background:

ryarbroughDr. Yarbrough (M.A., Wheaton College Graduate School; Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) has been Professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO since 2010 and is the former chair of the New Testament department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has published extensively in the field of New Testament, including his recent volume on the Johannine Epistles in the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (2008) and his Pictorial Guide to the New Testament from Kregel (2010). Dr. Yarbrough is ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America, where he has served in local churches for many years. In addition to his academic and ministry pursuits, Dr. Yarbrough enjoys woodcutting, landscaping, running, and coaching baseball. He and his wife, Bernadine have two adult sons.

As I’ve done for the last couple of year’s, I’ll be blogging through the class each day sharing some of the richest insights from Dr. Yarbrough, so stay tuned this week for some special content on 1, 2 and 3 John.

January 06 2013 | Blog and Johannine Epistles | Comments Off on Blogging Through Winterim 2013