Monday, September 20, 2010

The Book of James - Outline

There are a number of ways of outlining the book in order to grasp the arrangement of its content. One way is to arrange it around a series of tests by which the genuineness of a person’s faith may be measured.


Introduction (James 1:1)


I. The Test of Perseverance in Suffering (James 1:2–12)

II. The Test of Blame in Temptation (James 1:13–18)

III. The Test of Response to the Word (James 1:19–27)

IV. The Test of Impartial Love (James 2:1–13)

V. The Test of Righteous Works (James 2:14–26)

VI. The Test of the Tongue (James 3:1–12)

VII. The Test of Humble Wisdom (James 3:13–18)

VIII. The Test of Worldly Indulgence (James 4:1–12)

IX. The Test of Dependence (James 4:13–17)

X. The Test of Patient Endurance (James 5:1–11)

XI. The Test of Truthfulness (James 5:12)

XII. The Test of Prayerfulness (James 5:13–18)

XIII. The Test of True Faith (James 5:19–20)





MacArthur, J. (2001). James : Guildelines for a Happy Christian Life. MacArthur Bible studies (3). Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group. www.gty.org

Friday, September 17, 2010

Our Cross - MacArthur Study Bible

red cross


“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." Matthew 10:38 (NAS)

10:38 NOTE: ...take his cross... Here is Jesus’ first mention of the word “cross” to His disciples (see note on 16:21).

"From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day." Matthew 16:21 


16:21 NOTE: ...From that time... This marks the beginning of a new emphasis in Matthew’s account. He turns his attention from Jesus’ public ministry, to His private instructions for the disciples, which took on a new, somber tone. The disciples had confessed their faith in Him as Messiah. From then on, He began to prepare them for His death. 

10:38: Note Continued: ...take his cross... To them it would have evoked a picture of a violent, degrading death (see note on 27:31)

"After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him." Matthew 27:31

27:31 Note: ...to be crucified... Crucifixion was a form of punishment that had been passed down to the Romans from the Persians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians. Roman crucifixion was a lingering doom—by design. Roman executioners had perfected the art of slow torture while keeping the victim alive. Some victims even lingered until they were eaten alive by birds of prey or wild beasts. Most hung on the cross for days before dying of exhaustion, dehydration, traumatic fever, or—most likely—suffocation. When the legs would no longer support the weight of the body, the diaphragm was constricted in a way that made breathing impossible. That is why breaking the legs would hasten death (John 19:31–33),


"Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs."   John 19:31–33 (NAS)

27:31 Note Continued: but this was unnecessary in Jesus’ case. The hands were usually nailed through the wrists, and the feet through the instep or the Achilles tendon (sometimes using one nail for both feet). None of these wounds would be fatal, but their pain would become unbearable as the hours dragged on. The most notable feature of crucifixion was the stigma of disgrace that was attached to it,

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”  Galatians 3:13 (NAS)

"But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished."  Galatians 5:11 (NAS)

"fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."   Hebrews 12:2 (NAS)

27:31 Note Continued: One indignity was the humiliation of carrying one’s own cross, which might weigh as much as 200 pounds. Normally a quaternion, 4 soldiers, would escort the prisoner through the crowds to the place of crucifixion. A placard bearing the indictment would be hung around the person’s neck.

 He was demanding total commitment from them—even unto physical death—and making this call to full surrender a part of the message they were to proclaim to others. This same call to life-or-death devotion to Christ is repeated in Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23; 14:27. For those who come to Christ with self-renouncing faith, there will be true and eternal life (v. 39).


MacArthur, J. J. (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Mt 10:38). Nashville: Word Pub.

Friday, September 3, 2010

God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

Russell Moore


Dean of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/russellmoore/11637153/

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they've heard the gospel, right there in the nation's capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America's Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America's Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you'd told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it's not. It's from this week's headlines. And it is a scandal.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck,



of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn't the problem. He's an entrepreneur, he's brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I'm quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the "Tea Party" or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It's taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined "revival" and "turning America back to God" that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we've relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We've tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political "conservatism" and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Too often, and for too long, American "Christianity" has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.

Leaders will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems: captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death. That's why so many of our Christian superstars smile at crowds of thousands, reassuring them that they don't like to talk about sin. That's why other Christian celebrities are seen to be courageous for fighting their culture wars, while they carefully leave out the sins most likely to be endemic to the people paying the bills in their movements.

Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, racial or class resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right; anything will do. The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Is. 8:12-20). As long as the Serpent's voice is heard, "You shall not surely die," the powers are comfortable.

This is, of course, not new. Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn't mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn't worried about "revival" or "getting back to God." What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.

We used to sing that old gospel song, "I will cling to an old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown." The scandalous scene at the Lincoln Memorial indicates that many of us want to exchange it in too soon. To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all he needs offer is celebrity and attention.

Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him. An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any "revival" that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a "revival" of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).

The answer to this scandal isn't a retreat, as some would have it, to an allegedly apolitical isolation. Such attempts lead us right back here, in spades, to a hyper-political wasteland. If the churches are not forming consciences, consciences will be formed by the status quo, including whatever demagogues can yell the loudest or cry the hardest. The answer isn't a narrowing sectarianism, retreating further and further into our enclaves. The answer includes local churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and disciple their congregations to know the difference between the kingdom of God and the latest political whim.



And there will be a new generation, in America and elsewhere, who will be ready for a gospel that is more than just Fox News at prayer.

http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/russellmoore/11637153/

[Editor's note: For further reading, see Dr. R. Albert Mohler's related article:
"Mormonism Is Not Christianity."

An Hour with Ray Comfort - Ambassador's Academy