The Prodigal Prophet | Book Review

If people know anything about the prophet Jonah, they know he was swallowed by a big fish. Consequently, because we live in an anti-miraculous age, people tend to dismiss Jonah’s story as just another fish story, the product of an ancient, credulous imagination. That dismissal is a shame, for the Book of Jonah tells a story with a timely message for people who live, as we do, in a moment of resurging nationalism. The timeliness of that message is evident throughout The Prodigal Prophet by Timothy Keller. The book grew out of a series of expository sermons Keller preached at various … Continue reading The Prodigal Prophet | Book Review

Holiness: The Fourth Mark of the Ideal Church (Revelation 2:18-29)

The fourth mark of the church is holiness (Rev. 2:18-29). At the church of Thyatira, there was a woman whom Jesus refers to as “Jezebel.” The name is aptly chosen, for just as the Jezebel of the Old Testament had done (1 Kings 16:29–34), this woman led God’s people astray. Specifically, she convinced some of the Thyatiran Christians “to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” We readily understand Jesus’ condemnation of sexual immorality. Although the Old Testament often uses the language of adultery as a catchword for idolatry (e.g., Hos. 9:1), in the church of Thyatira, … Continue reading Holiness: The Fourth Mark of the Ideal Church (Revelation 2:18-29)

Participation in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:14–16)

In 1 Corinthians 10:14–22, Paul writes: Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? Do I mean then that a sacrifice … Continue reading Participation in Christ (1 Corinthians 10:14–16)

Four Sinful Behaviors (1 Corinthians 9:6–10)

The Daily Word for 1 Corinthians 9:6-10 will begin after the following book review blurb. ______________________________ Gabe Lyons, The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America (New York: Doubleday, 2010). $19.99, 240 pages. American Christians live in a transitional age. Christian America is dead. American society is increasingly pluralistic, postmodern, and post-Christian. How should American Christians respond to this new cultural reality? To read my complete review of The Next Christians, go here. If you’d like to subscribe to receive my book reviews via email, go here. The subscription will go live when you respond to … Continue reading Four Sinful Behaviors (1 Corinthians 9:6–10)

Good Theology Rightly Applied (1 Corinthians 8:9–13)

In 1 Corinthians 8:1–13, Paul answers the question of whether Christians can eat food sacrificed to idols. For modern American Christians, this question is not relevant, since our culture does not sacrifice to idols. The way Paul answers this question is relevant today, however, for it addresses how we educate people out of their ignorance. Paul identifies two crucial issues: what we know and how we use that knowledge. For Paul, knowledge liberates. Idols are objectively unreal, so eating food sacrificed to idols is objectively insignificant. Knowledgeable Corinthian Christians therefore eat such food freely. On the other hand, ignorance oppresses. … Continue reading Good Theology Rightly Applied (1 Corinthians 8:9–13)

Ignorance Is Not Bliss (1 Corinthians 8:7–8)

People say “Ignorance is bliss” and speak about “the burden of knowledge.” I know what they mean. My two-year-old son doesn’t know that I work to provide him food and clothing. He is happy, well-fed, and stylishly clothed nonetheless—thanks to my wife, his mother. On the other hand, I know that my livelihood provides for his needs, so I take care to remain gainfully employed. He is blissfully ignorant. I am burdened by knowledge. But in another sense, ignorance makes us unhappy and oppresses us. Consider 1 Corinthians 8:7–8, where Paul writes: But not everyone knows this. Some people are … Continue reading Ignorance Is Not Bliss (1 Corinthians 8:7–8)

What We Believe about God and Idols (1 Corinthians 8:4–6)

What we know influences how we live. For example, I know that my father’s side of the family has a history of heart disease. I also know that my weight, diet, and exercise regime will either exacerbate whatever genetic predisposition I have toward heart disease or alleviate it. So, I choose to lose weight, eat healthy, and exercise regularly. What I know influences how I live. The interplay between knowledge and behavior takes center stage in 1 Corinthians 8:1–11:1, where Paul argues with the Corinthians about food sacrificed to idols. To a significant degree, Paul agrees with the Corinthians’ theology—what … Continue reading What We Believe about God and Idols (1 Corinthians 8:4–6)

What’s Food Got to Do with Anything? (1 Corinthians 8:1a)

Sometimes, I read the Bible, scratch my head, and wonder what it’s talking about. I scratched my head when I read 1 Corinthians 8:1a: “Now about food sacrificed to idols…” These words introduce a three-chapter argument Paul makes against the Corinthians in 8:1–11:1. I haven’t seen any idols lately, let alone sacrificed food to them. So, I feel tempted to skip this portion of Scripture and move on to another that relates to my world. Perhaps you feel tempted to do the same. Resist that temptation! The particular example Paul uses may not be relevant to people like us—because we … Continue reading What’s Food Got to Do with Anything? (1 Corinthians 8:1a)