Friday, December 3, 2010

A long time since posting, but the forgotten blog is revived!

It has been a long time since anything has been done on this blog. It is a wonder that it is even still here. Forgotten and neglected as it has been I have returned to post again. It is Advent season in Louisville 2010!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bible Translation

I have not written in a while. Christmas and School had taken up a lot of time. Here is my translation of 1 john 1. Stay tuned for some more translations coming soon. Also I have translated some chapters out of Colossians but I am going to go back and revise them so that they do not have a wooden literalness. I have placed verse 5 in the first paragraph rather than the second paragraph. Most translations do other wise but I think that starting the new paragraph with verse 6 places an emphasis on the list of subjunctive conditional statements. I will have to continue to think through this.

1 John 1
verses 1-5

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched concerning the word of life. And the life was manifested to us and we have seen and we testify and announce to you the eternal life who was with the father and manifested to us. Who we have seen and heard we also announce to you, in order that you also may have fellowship with us and fellowship with our father and with his son Jesus Christ. This is the message that we have heard from him and we announce to you, that God is light and in him there is not at all and darkness.

verse 6-10

If we say that we have fellowship with him and we live a lifestyle in darkness we are actually lying and we do not practice the truth. But if our lifestyle is in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we never sin, we lie to ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we do not sin we characterize him as a liar and the word is not in us.

Resources used were the 4th revised edition of the United Bible Society's Greek New Testament and BDAG

Written by Stephen Stanford

Friday, November 14, 2008

Christ-Centered Preaching: A Review

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Preaching. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2007.
399 pp. $29.99

Christ-Centered Preaching is an introductory manual to expositional preaching. The author, Bryan Chapell, is professor of practical theology and president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis Missouri. He also served as a pastor for many years. He earned his Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University.

Christ-Centered Preaching is comprehensive in scope. First, Chapell seeks to inform on how best to prepare an expository sermon by discussing how to organize, develop and deliver it. The book also seeks to inform the student about the necessity of preaching Christ-centered sermons from any text in the Bible. He discusses the problems with a “Be” sermon, which is a sermon that proclaims ethical instruction but lacks the redemptive message of Christ. He argues that this type of sermon will only discourage those who are listening because it implies that the power of our ethical performance is in us rather than through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. He is also concerned that this type of sermon will lead to a theology of self justification and ultimately to despair and/or legalism. He does not argue against preaching ethical commands but that our message must be informed by the cross of Christ. Also, he points out that our obedience should not come from fear of damnation but rather through thankfulness to the God of the gospel.

Many people might be afraid that preaching Christ from a section of scripture that does not mention him explicitly is to impose on the text an unwarranted point of application. That is exactly what expositional preachers want to avoid! They might be concerned, for example, with someone taking a passage from the Old Testament historical books and “Christianizing” them. However, he makes the point that we interpret the historical flow of the Old Testament through the eyeglasses of the New Testament and points out that the focus of all of scripture is on Jesus Christ (John 5:39,46;Luke 24:27). He also warns that there is a necessity to preach Christ, arguing that the only true hope and motivation for ethical transformation is not found in mere commands but in the Christ of the gospel. He writes, “…no text tells us what we can do to complete ourselves or to make ourselves acceptable to God (by our actions), for then we would not be truly fallen. No passage tells us how to make ourselves holy (as though we could achieve divine status by our own efforts). The Bible is not a self-help book. Scriptures presents one, consistent, organic message. It tells us how we must seek Christ, who alone is our Savior and sources of strength, to be and do what God requires. To preach what people should be and do and yet not mention him who enables their accomplishment warps the biblical message ( 277).”

It was encouraging for me to read a preaching book that labored, both to be faithful to the theme of the individual sermon text as well as the main theme of the Bible; Christ and him crucified. The book did a good job focusing on the theology of preaching as well as on how to preach. Its greatest strength is that it is comprehensive in its approach. For instance, he covers everything form grammatical outlining of the text, the mechanics and importance of sermon illustrations, commentary, and language tool recommendation to a sustained argument for preaching Christ in every sermon from all of scripture.

In light of the above, I whole heartedly recommend this book to any student of preaching. It is a great place to begin as you develop your ability to create a biblical sermon. Chapell has succeeded in writing a theologically driven, textually accurate, gospel saturated and listener sensitive introduction to homiletics.

Written by Stephen Stanford

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Notes on the Proverb

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Proverbs 3;5-8

v.5 "Trust in the Lord..." We should trust God, accepting his guidance and doing as he commands. God has knowledge and power over all things. If he is for us, then we will prevail. This trust should be sincere and confident knowing God's designs will be accomplished.

"Do not lean..."
We should not rely on our own understanding. Where God knows all things, we do not; where he has power, we do not. What God has not revealed we can not know. Our understanding is not sufficient to accomplish our plans, and we ought to trust God and his commands no matter what, recognizing that he is wise and good and that nothing happens apart from his plans. We may not know God's plans, but we know that he will fulfill them. The bible is a testament to his faithfulness and goodness and should make us confident in our trust of God. (see Gen. 22, The Sacrifice of Isaac)

v.6 "in all your ways acknowledge him..." The first part of this sentence commands our action and the second affirms what God will does when we obey. We need not say, "this is for God" or "praise the Lord" in every moment, even though it is good to say so. The idea behind acknowledging God is not that of verbal praise-giving, but of doing all that God commanded in every area of life. We acknowledge him as we obey him. When we begin to think like God (as much as possible) we will acknowledge him in ways that we could not conceive before.

"the Lord will make straight your paths."
This is not a promise of prosperity, but that we will walk rightly or righteously when we obey. This righteous walking is the work of God in us and credit is do to him. No one walks righteously without him, but only by him.

v.7 "Be not wise..." We ought not conceive of ourselves as wise and do as seems best to us. What seems good is an illusion (not really good), but if one fears the Lord he will turn from evil( and what seems good). Fear of God assumes that one knows Gods power. No one's plans will stand nor will his way prosper apart from the Lord. Therefore, the one that walks apart from the Lord has no reason for confidence. (see Luke 12;13-21, Parable of a rich fool) He thinks that he will accomplish his plans not knowing that it is only possible if God wills it. To trust oneself and not God is evil. The one that fears God turns from evil because he knows God's wrath burns against evildoers.

v.8 "It will be healing..." To obey and trust God is good for us, it is necessary for proper health. The one that does not is sick. But to fear God and turn from evil will bring healing to the flesh and refreshment to the bones. It is good for whole person. It will revive the weak, the sick, the weary.

By Samuel Gantt

Friday, October 24, 2008

Corporate Worship

I have been thinking about corporate worship. My thoughts have been centered around the idea of how best we can organize our worship on Sunday morning. What is the best way to organize a God glorifying, Christ exalting, Holy Spirit filling worship service? Well here is a rough outline of what I would like to see accomplished.

1.) The true Gospel needs to saturate the service.

2.) Christ' Lordship needs to be a prevalent motif.

3.) Prayer should take place, at the very least, before, during and toward the end of the service.

4.) Pastoral prayer for the congregation should apply to the congregation and be thought out before hand but done with flexibility.

5.) Music should have traditional hymns but arranged in a contemporary way and newly written songs. This allows the music to be culturally relevant yet still helps Christians understand the unity they have with believers of past ages. Some of the songs done in the service would be happy and there would be clapping. Other songs would be solemn. Too often services go from one extreme to the other. In the Psalms we find that there are a number of different emotional postures. Services might also incorporate psalms set to music but arranged in a contemporary manner.

6.) Worship service should have contemporary songs that are theologically accurate and that are centered around God.

7.) There should be a lot of scripture. It would be nice to see scripture selection done in a way that incorporates a biblical theological method. Biblical Theology in a technical sense is the study of the unity of the scriptures. So how this applies is that scripture passages from all over the bible, both Old and New would relate to the main theme of the sermon. They would be read at different parts of the service. However the opening scripture would be based around an attribute of God and/or an action of God. That is how the service would begin. There would probably be three, four or five scripture passages read during the service. Preferably each quarter of the service would have a passage read. The last passage would be the main text for the sermon. The many scripture reading would help impress upon the congregation the importance of the word of God. It would also show that the service is centered around God in that we place so much importance on Gods very words.

8.) The ordinances would be taken toward the end of the service every Sunday.

9.) Preaching would be Christ centered expository preaching as the norm. Topical preaching would be done on special occasions (national tragedy, etc) and also to teach major doctrines. For instance after preaching the book of Philippians the teaching elder might do a series on the doctrine of sanctification. Preaching should be biblical, theological and explicitly applicable.

Anyhow these are some of the ideas I have.

Written by Stephen Stanford

Monday, October 13, 2008

Book Review: According to Plan

According to Plan: The unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. By Graeme Goldsworthy Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1991. 251 pp


The bible is a collection of books with a variety of characters that existed over a long period of time. Some times we might think of the bible as simply Gods instruction manual for our life, but with so much diversity in the historical-chronological placement of the characters and the multiform locations how do we find any coherence and unity to apply the text of scripture to our lives. It is common place for many Christians to be confused on how the Old Testament relates to their lives. For instance, one might wonder how the story of the exodus relates to a non-Jewish Christian in 2008. Graeme Goldsworthy takes up the task of Biblical Theology. Biblical Theology in the technical or academic sense is the study of the bibles unity. In According to Plan he sets out to find the unifying elements between the Old Testament and the New Testament.


The book is split into four parts. The first part is entitle “Biblical Theology- Why?” In this section he sets out to inform us as to why Biblical Theology is necessary. He argues that Biblical Theology as a methodological approach helps us deal with a number of theological problems that occur as we read the text of scripture. Also, he argues that Biblical Theology helps us interpret the Old Testament properly. Moreover, biblical theology helps us interpret problematic passages. By understanding the grand narrative of scripture we can interpret the problematic particular parts.

The second part is entitled “Biblical Theology- How?” This part really deals with the epistemological basis for our ability to do Biblical Theology. In this section he explains the various theological disciplines that we use to know scripture. Then he looks at how the Christian world view informs our presuppositional basis for interpreting scripture. He also looks at the implications of Christ interpreting the Old Testament and how that informs out understanding of the grand theme that runs from genesis to revelation.

The third part is entitled “Biblical Theology- What?” This section is the largest of the four. In this section he goes through the main sections of the bible and shows how they relate individually to the flow of redemptive history. For instance, how does the covenant made with King David build upon the covenants of Sinai and with Abraham? Another way of looking at the question is: How does the history of the bible relate to the overall theme of the bible?

The fourth section is entitled “Biblical Theology- Where?” In this section Goldsworthy shows the reader how to do biblical theology. He lets the reader see how to take a topic and then look at that topic through the lenses of the redemptive history of the bible.


The book was very helpful in many was. His discussion of the exodus account was particularly interesting. He helped me meditate about how God, in his sovereignty, often will set up the redemptive context in ways that man can only credit God for the accomplishment of redemption. Abraham had to trust that God would provide an heir even when physically it looked impossible. So also, Israel in its captivity had no way to save themselves. The promises given to Abraham looked empty. God said that he would make them a great nation but instead they are slaves in Egypt. Yet God chose them as his people not because they were better than Egypt or any other people group on the earth, but so that God would glorify himself through the coming messiah. The people of Israel simply had to trust the promises of God on Gods intrinsic authority. Not only do Gods promises look hopeless because they are slaves, but also God hardened pharaoh’s heart. God sets up the hopeless situation so that the redemption could only be traced back to the handiwork of God.

This is particularly what he has does even with us. We are children of Abraham (Gal 3:7) but, like the nation of Israel was not chosen because of its wealth or the greatness of its numbers so also we as individuals were not chosen because of our inherent goodness or decision making abilities (Rom 9:11-18). Just like Israel was subject to the Egyptians so also we (Christians), albeit willingly, were subject to our lord: the world, the flesh and the devil (Eph 2:1-3). Just as God redeemed his people with his mighty hand, plaguing and destroying the Egyptians so also God redeemed us by sending his son to die for our sins and giving us faith to believe (Eph 2:4-8). The point is that it is God alone who gets the credit for the work of redemption. God saves us in such a way that it is God dishonoring to see man as anything else but as completely needy upon his grace and authoritative sovereignty.

Use for Ministry

I think that this book will be very useful for anyone who seeks to understand the scriptures in their entirety. This book will be particularly helpful for those who want to see the deep significance of the Old Testament narratives. As for those, like myself, who desire to preach and teach Gods word. It will be particularly helpful as I seek to prepare sermons on the Old Testament. Moreover, it will be helpful for me as I prepare sermons so that I can relate the Old Testament narrative to its ultimate telos, the Gospel.

Written by Stephen Stanford

Monday, October 6, 2008

Evangelistic Opportunities

In the last post I mentioned three ways that we can engage people in evangelistic conversation. We should be opinionated (in the way that I described in the previous post), inquisitive and compassionate. Several good comments were added in response by others. Now, I want to think of a few ways that we can create opportunities for conversations about the gospel. We are around the unbelieving all the time, and if not we should make it a point to spend time with the unbeliever. The fact is that wherever we are we have the opportunity to evangelize, at work, at play and at church. Yes, even at church. Not everyone is converted there, and besides we ought to speak of God's word often with those at church.

At work we can, and I think, ought to evangelize. The mere fact that there may be consequences is not sufficient to excuse us, for it is not great than the commission from Christ. I don't mean to say that the consequences are not significant; they should be considered, but they are not more important than God's command. It should also be remembered that evangelizing those at work need not be all at once, but done gradually. It will come about that people will discuss what they believe and why, an opportunity is presented at that time. Share what you believe, and connect it to the gospel which is your reason. Gain their respect as much as possible be open to opportunities. Evangelism is not something that we do at a certain time and in certain places. Use the ideas discussed in the previous post at work.

The most basic idea I have for evangelism is to get involved in something that you are interested in where there will be unbelievers. Examples of this are abundant, I have heard of a pastor that joined a rowing team in order to evangelize, another person uses a book club and another befriends those on the bus. Do you like music? Join a music club. Do you like sports? Join a team, invite people over from work. Meet people with common interests and use that as a vehicle for creating opportunities for evangelistic conversations.

Another idea is to start evangelizing the people around you. Do you live in an apartment? Talk to your neighbors. Do you go out to eat? Become a regular at a local restaurant and befriend the workers. Be friendly.

Some less popular methods are still valid. Handing out tracts and preaching to groups. I recommend that the latter be done in an environment that facilitates this. Say in formal debates, in meetings and classrooms. If your a student, make it clear what the gospel is and correct the ignorance of unbelievers appropriately. I knew an RUF intern that regularly attended the UT atheist club meetings. There he made his belief known and made friendships with the people involved. By the end of the year they have decided to put on a debate to which atheists and rufers were invited. After the debate they went to eat and talk. Out of this I remember hearing of fruitful conversations. This is perhaps one of the best examples I know of evangelism. In regards to tract evangelism, the point is not so much to be effective in a singular moment, but to spread information about the truth as much as possible. It is basically advertising. Believe it or not people learn things form the media and its advertising. Advertising is an excellent way for us to spread the knowledge of the truth. Using brief, but well thought out arguments about christianity can be useful. Spread them around whether you talk to a person or not, it is likely that someone will ready it and learn something.

This are some ideas that I have thought about, though they are not entirely my own. I would like to mention a few things as a side note. Whenever we talk about evangelism, especially relationship evangelism it is important to remember that the way act and live is exceedingly important. It will show how much we really believe in Jesus and Love him. Our passion can be seen. It also means that part of setting a good example is being honest about our imperfection and sin. Believe it or not sinners will see us sin (they may hold it against us or think that it is okay), but rather that excuse ourselves or deny things, or stand proud or whatever we do, we should use it as an opportunity to explain the gospel. We are sinners, they are sinners and both need the forgiveness of Christ. Tell them about the promise of the Spirit who does his sanctifying work. We can not avoid unbelievers seeing us sin, so use it as an opportunity to explain the gospel when possible. Obviously that won't always be possible, but we must do what we can. And of course, remember that you should live as uprightly as possible because you love Christ and you will faithfully represent him in this way. We must not forget that representing christ in our action is not the gospel, and that it must be coupled with speaking the word of truth. Finally, I want to remind the reader of what has been on my heart. We will neither pursue nor see evangelistic opportunities, nor be ready with the gospel, nor able to set a good example if we are not in Prayer and bible study and most of all if we are not loving and dwelling on Christ as first and foremost in our lives.

I hope that these ideas are helpful to everyone. Let me know what you think, I really appreciated and enjoyed the comments that were made on the other post.