Thursday, December 29, 2011

Johnny Hunt Men's Conference 2012

Join us for a 2011 Johnny Hunt Men's Conference!

I am very excited about the upcoming Johnny Hunt Men's Conference! A small group from Northside Baptist Church will be attending. I hope to see some friends there!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Recapping 2011: Thank You!

I am completely amazed at just how quickly 2011 has come and gone! I spent a rather significant amount of time writing on the Apostle Paul at the beginning of the year before moving on to the topic of conflict in the church. I was blown away when I received a request from a church in Texas desiring to use some of that material for a training class they were conducting. I have thought of those saints often and sincerely hope that the Lord used the lessons I learned to help other believers. Very humbling indeed!

I briefly remembered the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks that occurred September 11th 2001. Though many other stories have occupied the minds of Americans, almost constant among them is another misstep by an employee of the TSA. The talking heads on television make some noise about the incident yet average Americans are somehow occupied by other things. Such is life in the 21st century I suppose.

Steve Jobs passed away a few months ago and much was said about the impact he had on the world and the future of Apple Computer without Mr. Jobs at the helm. Very little was said about the views Jobs held concerning the things of God. The lesson I learned from Jobs is this: someone from humble beginnings can truly change the world! Doing so in a way that brings honor and glory to God would be even better!

My children continue to excel in school with my son having been invited to join the Jr. Beta Club this fall. They are both so very intelligent and quickly grasp new ideas and concepts. They are both quite good with technology in general and computers specifically. I am not ashamed to admit that I am so very proud of them. What tremendous blessings they both are!

Melisa has had another hectic year professionally with her longtime employer yet simply loves her job! There is always something new and exciting going on in the wireless industry and it is pretty neat to watch it unfold. As if she is not busy enough, she is contemplating returning to school! Her interests are varied but I am sure whatever she decides to study, it will be as unto the Lord! A man could not ask for a better partner on life’s journey.

I am blessed to be working for a company that is seeing business grow during a very difficult economic period of time in our nation. It is possible to manufacture quality products in the United States at competitive price points! The leadership of my employer is to be commended for their vision and stewardship.

Academically, I completed my 16th of 20 classes and remain on track to finish up the MRE program I began in 2009 next summer. With four classes to go, the light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter and I am eager to wrap this up and see what the Lord has for us next. I was saddened to learn that another LBTS student had used material from the blog as his own in an academic submission. I prayed earnestly that the school would show grace in their approach to resolving the situation.

The final topic I want to address here is the blog itself. I am so humbled that so many visitors have come to this site. While intended to be personal in nature, I hope it is also a place with some useful information on a variety of topics. The coming year will likely see some changes here as my time in seminary draws to a close. I plan on expanding the topics about which I write though my regulars can rest assured that the perspective will remain decidedly Christian. Thanks for an awesome 2011!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Context of the First Epistle of John

            One of the cornerstones of sound hermeneutics is to understand the context of a passage of Scripture.  To better understand the passage this monograph focuses on, it will be helpful to understand the historical-cultural context of 1 John.  It will also be beneficial to have a clear view of who John was, who is audience was, and what the world in which they lived was like.  The following sections will briefly cover each of these areas.
Historical-Cultural Context of the Book of 1 John
          1 John was likely written A.D. 85-95 in Ephesus where John had relocated near the time of the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in A.D 70.[1]  Ephesus was a wealthy shipping port capital city of the Roman province of Asia, modern day Turkey, with a population estimated to be in excess of three hundred thousand people.[2]  During the Apostolic age, Ephesus was known for the temple of Artemis (Diana) and proudly bore the title of “temple keeper of the great Artemis” (Acts 19:35).  This spectacular temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. 
          From a Christian perspective, Ephesus is known for great idolatry.  Christianity posed a threat to temple and the business of making idols which nearly cost the Apostle Paul his live during one of his visits there (Acts 19:24, 30-31).[3]  Ephesus was once a city where Christianity thrived and many came to faith in Christ though this clearly changed as this was one of the cities God later takes issue with (Rev. 2:4).   
          It is against this backdrop that John writes his first epistle.  The Letter is in response to the rise of religious mysticism which took on Christian motifs in an attempt to mislead Christians from the Gospel they had received.[4]   This early form of Gnosticism was cause for great concern for John and this epistle, likely meant as a companion to the Gospel that bears his name, showed great love and yet sternness towards a younger generation of believers.[5]  The church or churches that John wrote to were under attack by this false teaching (cf. 2:18-28; 4:1-6; 5:6-7).  Among the heresies the false teachers propagated were insisting that righteousness is not a duty of the Christian life and that Christ is not God incarnate.[6] Other teachers denied the humanity of Jesus while some denied His deity.  Falsehood abounded and John sought to reassure his audience.
The Biblical Author: John the Apostle
          As with many other books of the Bible, authorship is also a topic of discussion and 1 John is no different.  The author of 1 John clearly claims to be an eye witness to the events which he describes (v. 1:1-3) though he does not explicitly identify himself in a normal salutation characteristic of Hellenistic letters.  The author writes with what can easily be described as apostolic authority and makes no fewer than 51 parallel references to the Gospel of John.[7]  Most scholars have concluded that the fourth Gospel, the book of Revelation, and the three letters attributed to John all have a common author.  There is no compelling reason based on the internal evidence to deny Johannine authorship any of these books in general and specifically the book being discussed here.
          Turning to the external evidence, it is an uncontested historical fact that the early church identified the Apostle John, son of Zebedee, brother of James, the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 21:20, 24) as the author of the Fourth Gospel and 1 John.[8]  Clement of Rome (A.D. 90) makes allusions to 1 John while Polycarp of Smyrna (A.D. 110-140) actually quotes 1 John.[9]  Justin Martyr’s Dialogue 123:9 (A.D. 150-160) also quotes 1 John while others such as Ignatius of Antioch (early A.D 100’s) and Papias of Hierapolis, who was born A.D. 50-60 personally knew John, make allusions to 1 John in their writings.  Others who attribute 1 John to the Apostle include Irenaeus, Origen, Dionysius, and Jerome.[10] 
          Here is an author who claims to be an eye witness of the things he describes and the external evidence affirms the authorship of the book ascribing it to the Apostle John.  It can confidently be stated that the extant epistle known today as 1 John was indeed written by the Apostle and what has been transmitted to posterity is the letter he wrote.  As such, it is a trustworthy source of both historical information and theological instruction both for the original audience as well as contemporary Christians.
          Given the other information available about John, it is evident that the letter was written late in his life and he wrote as an elder statesman of the church to a church or group of churches about which he cared very deeply.  John seeks to encourage the recipients of the letter to live godly lives (v. 1:7; 2:1), remind them of the importance of loving one another, assure them of their salvation in Jesus Christ (v. 5:13), and refute the errors being taught by those who split from their church.  John’s letter is modest in language yet deep in theology.

[1] Plummer, A. The Epistles of S. John, With Notes, Introduction, and Appendices, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1896), 10.
[2] Walls, David, and Max Anders. Volume 11, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, Jude, Holman New Testament Commentary, Holman Reference. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 153.
[3] Elwell, Walter A., and Phillip Wesley Comfort. Tyndale Bible Dictionary. (Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 437.
[4] Ibid, 16.
[5] Ibid, 33-34.
[6] Paschall, Franklin H., and Herschel H. Hobbs. The Teacher's Bible Commentary: A Concise, Thorough Interpretation of the Entire Bible Designed Especially for Sunday School Teachers. (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 796.
[7] Akin, Daniel L. The New American Commentary, Volume 38 1, 2, 3 John, electronic ed, Logos Library System. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 24.
[8] Ibid, 25.
[9] Utley, Dr. Robert James. The Beloved Disciple's Memoirs and Letters: The Gospel of John, I, II, and III John, Study Guide Commentary Series Volume 4. (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 189.
[10] Ibid.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rethinking the Blog

My regular readers may have noticed that all but one of my October posts have disappeared. Sadly, a professor from my school asked me to take those posts down. It would seem that some of the material from my blog has turned up in the papers of other students at LBTS. Though unfortunate, there is little one who publishes material to the internet can do about such behavior.

One of the analogies that came to mind immediately is that of tithes and offerings being given to the church. If there is financial misconduct in the church it is hardly appropriate to place the blame for that misconduct on the congregants who faithfully gave their tithes and offerings to support the ministries of the church. Be that as it may, this recent incident has given me pause concerning the approach I have been taking towards my blogging activities. Perhaps this is naive on my part but it honestly never occurred to me that material from my modest little blog might be "borrowed"!

I assume that all reputable, accredited institutions of higher learning in the United States use software such as SafeAssign or Turnitin to monitor for such behavior. Liberty University most certainly does! Of course there are only so many ways something can be said about a given topic. That is where the wisdom and experience of university professors comes into play. Tools such as those mentioned are simply tools. The real work comes in using those tools and discerning the results they yield. As a student, I have found the best course to take when writing a paper is to be a thorough as possible and when in doubt, provide a citation!

While my approach may change somewhat, I do not intend to stop blogging. Quite the contrary, I fully intend to press on and possibly expand the topics upon which I write. Though certainly not anywhere near the busiest, the traffic my blog receives is evidence enough that there is an interest in conservative views on issues, people, and especially theology. I covet your prayers as I ponder the course my blog will take in the future.