Will Varner: “What is the ultimate message of the Psalms?”

JP: A good read by Will Varner

What is the ultimate message of the Psalms?

There are more prophecies and allusions and types of the Messiah in the Psalms than in any other book of the Old Testament! Some of these, as we shall see, are so very detailed and precise that they appear to be the descriptions of those actually viewing the events instead of foretelling them hundreds of years before. Below is a suggested list, although I do not intend it to be exhaustive.

Psalms Reference — New Testament Fulfillment:

Ps. 2:7 God declares Him to be His Son. Matthew 3:17
Ps. 8:6 All things will be put under His feet. Hebrews 2:8
Ps. 16:10 He will be resurrected from the dead. Mark 16:6, 7
Ps. 22:1 God will forsake Him in His hour of need. Matthew 27:46
Ps. 22:7, 8 He will be scorned and mocked. Luke 23:35
Ps. 22:16 His hands and feet will be pierced. John 20:25, 27
Ps. 22:18 Others will gamble for His clothes. Matthew 27:35, 36
Ps. 34:20 Not one of His bones will be broken. John 19:32, 33, 36
Ps. 35:11 He will be accused by false witnesses. Mark 14:57
Ps. 35:19 He will be hated without a cause. John 15:25
Ps. 40:7, 8 He will come to do God’s will. Hebrews 10:7
Ps. 41:9 He will be betrayed by a friend. Luke 22:47
Ps. 45:6 His throne will be forever. Hebrews 1:8
Ps. 68:18 He will ascend to God’s right hand. Mark 16:19
Ps. 69:9 Zeal for God’s house will consume Him. John 2:17
Ps. 69:21 He will be given vinegar and gall to drink. Matthew 27:34
Ps. 72:1–19 He will be a worldwide king. Revelation 19:11–20:6
Ps. 109:4 He will pray for His enemies. Luke 23:34
Ps. 109:8 His betrayer’s place will be filled by another. Acts 1:20
Ps. 110:1 His enemies will be made subject to Him. Matthew 22:44
Ps. 110:4 He will be a priest like Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:6
Ps. 118:22 He will be the chief cornerstone. Matthew 21:42
Ps. 118:26 He will come in the name of the Lord. Matthew 21:91


Celebrating Thanksgiving in Hard Times

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Hard Times


Our Pilgrim forbearers faced difficult times in the year before their first Thanksgiving in America. Nevertheless, they found reasons to praise God for their survival in a brutal wilderness.

The original Pilgrims fled to Holland in 1608 and then to America in 1620 because they were suffering persecution and imprisonment in England for their Biblical faith. Their stay in Holland was short because, although they found spiritual liberty there, a disjointed economy failed to provide adequate compensation for their labors, and a degraded and corrupt culture was tempting their children to stray from the faith.

Determined to protect their families from these spiritual and cultural dangers, the Pilgrims uprooted their community and sailed for a New World in America that offered the promise of both civil and religious liberty. Despite the hardships they encountered in these wanderings, the Pilgrims considered themselves to be “stepping stones” for future generations, whether they lived or died. Their focus was on the future and on faithfulness to God. They trusted God to sustain them in good years and bad.

Image Source: Norman Rockwell

Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired?

Did Jude Treat Noncanonical Writings as if They Were Inspired?


Let us assume, for the sake of our study, that The Book of Enoch existed at the time that Jude wrote, and that Jude really was referencing it. Simply because Jude knew of Enoch’s prophecy and approved it, does not necessarily imply that Jude certified the entire collection of Enoch’s writings as inspired of God. The Greek word translated “prophesied” in Jude 14 is propheteuo, a word that is used on only one occasion in the New Testament (Matthew 15:7) for a citation of an Old Testament passage (Isaiah 29). The cognate Greek noun prophetes, which relates to the verb propheteuo, was used by Paul to refer to a heathen poet (Titus 1:12). There is no evidence, then, that Jude referred to Enoch’s prophecy as an inspired work. Why, then, did Jude mention The Book of Enoch? He recognized that the prophecy of Enoch had turned out to be a true prophecy. Jude never gave indication of what he thought of the remainder of The Book of Enoch.

Many times in Scripture, inspired writers use other sources of information; sometimes these sources are inspired, and sometimes they are not. For an example, one occasion when an inspired writer used an uninspired source is in 1 Corinthians 10:4, where Paul apparently made a reference to Jewish legend to support his own inspired interpretation of Israel’s wilderness wanderings (Lenski, 1937, pp. 392-393). On other occasions (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12-13), Paul quoted from pagan poets to support his own assertions, and even told his audiences that the specific portions of the pagan writings he referenced were accurate. Did Paul claim that these extrabiblical materials were inspired? Certainly not. Paul used supporting materials that would have been meaningful to his audiences. The noncanonical works that were cited by New Testament authors were highly respected. The fact that Paul used noncanonical sources to add an extra dimension to his message should not motivate us to regard any of Paul’s writings as inferior, or to totally disregard them. The same is true in the case of Jude’s epistle.

Further, Jude did not necessarily imply that Enoch saw into the future to predict attitudes or actions of the sinners under consideration in the epistle. All that is necessarily implied in Jude 14-15 is that Enoch’s prediction happened to be descriptive of the men about whom Jude wrote (Barnes, 1949, p. 399).

We probably will never be sure when (or if) Jude received information from earthly sources about Enoch’s writing or The Assumption of Moses. Perhaps Jude heard about it from traditional sources or from the books themselves, but this does not alter the fact that Jude was inspired of God. It is possible that the Holy Spirit, as He inspired Jude, certified that one particular portion of The Book of Enoch is correct, though not inspired. It is altogether certain, however, that despite critics’ allegations, the Bible continues to stand firm as the sole message from the Creator—always accurate and dependable.

Copyright © 2004 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved

JP: Worthwhile read.

Contending without Brawling

60s boxing gloves

About childhood in the ’60s: Let’s just say things were different back then. Most kids I knew had a slingshot and a BB gun (I had a Daisy Model 25 pump action). Many had bow and arrows (I did) and boxing gloves (ditto). We raised two boys and they had none of those things.

I had boxing gloves and we had boxing matches: no headgear, no mouth guards … just boxing gloves. I won some and I lost some. Once I basically K.O.’d my brother. (I think parents are a lot smarter these days about these things!)

I posted earlier this week an image about “Contending for the Faith” (the post previous to this one). Part of that image is a pair of boxing gloves. I’ve been thinking all week since whether boxing gloves really represent the phrase “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3).

Is this what Jude had in mind? (Image from the Marciano / Roland La Starza match – September 24, 1953 in New York)

Marciano defended against Roland La Starza

Let’s examine the word in question and compare with other Scripture.

Jude 3

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)

The Greek word translated “to contend earnestly” is ἐπαγωνίζομαι (Present Middle or Passive Infinitive). The present tense speaks of continuing action. This particular verb only occurs in this one place in the New Testament (called a hapax legomenon) so we cannot look up this verb in other N.T. passages for help with its meaning. But ἐπαγωνίζομαι is a compound of ἐπί and ἀγωνίζομαι and this fact provides some important clues as to meaning:

  • ἐπί is a common preposition that can mean “against”
  • ἀγωνίζομαι (the transliteration  is interesting = agōnizomai. It looks somewhat like “agonize”). The meaning is:
    • to enter a contest: contend in the gymnastic games
    • to contend with adversaries, fight
    • metaph. to contend, struggle, with difficulties and dangers
    • to endeavor with strenuous zeal, strive: to obtain something

I think that most certainly “contending for the faith” (click link to see Jude 3 in various translations) has in view a contest between opponents or a battle between truth and error.

Considering the qualifications for Eldership we see that a Pastor is not to be a brawler (1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 3:2):

To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men (Titus 3:2 KJV)

The Apostle Paul was not averse to using athletic terms to speak of the discipline of the Christian life:

I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Corinthians 9:27 NIV)

Nevertheless nowhere do we see Paul beating another or advocating beating another.

The servant of God is called upon to be meek and gentle in this battle – to contend without brawling!

“Contending earnestly for the faith” is a call to conservative Christianity. To be conservative speaks of the need to conserve. One conserves that which has existed in the past so it may be enjoyed in the present and passed down to future generations.

old growth forest

To use the illustration of Lost 40 state forest:

Lost 40, so-called due to a surveying slip back in 1882, is located in the Big Fork State Forest in the Agassiz Lowlands. This site includes a narrow peninsula extending from a large upland esker. The peninsula is flanked by a black spruce and tamarack bog on one side, and a willow and alder marsh on the other. The area contains 28 acres of red pine forest and 18 acres of spruce-fir forest. The virgin old-growth red pine forest is the largest and oldest stand in the Blackduck Forestry Area. White pine over 300 years old can be found on the site. The U.S. Forest Service administers adjacent lands with old growth red and white pine, as well. Fringed polygala, bluebead lily, twin flower, and Canada mayflower occur in this area. Early to mid-summer is a good time to see wildflowers in bloom. A walking trail provides easy access through the gorgeous site.

Imagine that: an old growth forest exists today because of a surveying error more than a century ago!

This is analogous to conservative Christianity. Something precious existed in the past and has been handed down to us:

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

“The faith” is the complete package of truths of the Gospel that saves us. One might call them the fundamentals or the essentials of the Christian faith.

The ESV Study Bible has this comment about “the faith”:

“The faith” (i.e., the known and received body of truth about Jesus and salvation through him) had been once for all delivered to the saints (i.e., Christians). In other words, by the time that Jude wrote his letter, “the faith” had already been fixed and established in the apostolic teaching of the early church, and therefore could not be changed, but was under attack and in need of defense.

Previous generations battled error and defended truth. The conserved that precious package for our generation to enjoy. And so we are called upon to live that truth (holy living), defend that truth against error (offer an Apologetic), and spread that truth (evangelism) to conserve it and preserve it for subsequent generations.

What contending is not:

  • It is not a physical battle: Ephesians 6:12, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
  • Physical violence is to be eschewed: “Put your sword in its place” (Matthew 26:52)
  • Verbal putdowns (or smack downs) are not in view!

Several more observations:

  • With whom are we to contend? Answer: Unsaved false teachers: “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” Jude 4
  • Over what are we to contend? Answer: “our common salvation … the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)

Worthwhile reads on Theology, Worldview, and Fundamentalism

JP: Recently found on the web that I found interesting and pass on to readers

Church Planting in the US

JP: An insightful article by Pastor Dave Doran on the importance of U.S. Church planting. Image source = www.plntd.com

Church Planting in the US

First paragraphs:

The United States is often described as a land of boundless opportunity, and in many respects this is certainly true. One area of opportunity, however, that seems often to be either denied or simply ignored is the opportunity to plant new churches. Many people believe that America has all the churches it needs and that our entire missionary focus should be overseas. There are many solid reasons for disagreeing with this thinking. Why should we give fresh consideration to the need for planting churches here in theUnited States?

The most important reason is that the fulfillment of the Great Commission mandate given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ requires church planting. When the Lord said that disciples were to be baptized and taught to observe all of His commands, it presupposes the establishment of local churches in order for this to be carried out. The book of Acts clearly records that the apostles understood this (Acts2:41-47;11:19-26;14:21-23). Paul’s description of his ministry at Corinth makes it clear that he viewed himself as a church planter (1 Cor 3:5-17). Church planting is the true target of the Great Commission, so every church that is committed to the commission must be committed to church planting.

John Piper: Are There Two Wills in God?

JP: Mike Riley mentioned this article in today’s lesson. I read it earlier this week.

Are There Two Wills in God? Divine Election and God’s Desire for All to Be Saved


My aim here is to show from Scripture that the simultaneous existence of God’s will for “all persons to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4) and his will to elect unconditionally those who will actually be saved is not a sign of divine schizophrenia or exegetical confusion. A corresponding aim is to show that unconditional election therefore does not contradict biblical expressions of God’s compassion for all people, and does not nullify sincere offers of salvation to everyone who is lost among all the peoples of the world.