Conversations about specific texts, filled with arcs, brackets, phrases, word studies, etc.
Humans are designed to love and praise God, to have fullness of joy in communion and adoration of their Creator and Savior. And David relates here to God in full view of these things.
This psalm should be a reality check for us! I find it so easy to forget the reason I exist at all, and the reason why I have been redeemed: not to find happiness in myself and fulfilling my own purposes, but in doing God’s will, in delighting in him, in worshipping him (John 4:34). And when I forget this, I either don’t pray, or I pray on the basis of my own merit or my own wants. No wonder, then, that often our prayers are unanswered (James 4:3).
God did give us commands in the OT on how to worship him—commands he expects us, his NT people, to obey.
To prove that claim (after my study on Matthew 15:1-9), I’m going to briefly describe and apply three NT passages: Romans 15:1-6, 1 Corinthians 9:3-14, and 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.
1. Romans 15:1-6
Paul’s topic in Romans 15:1-6 isn’t about worship, but his point in verse 4 applies not only to worship but to all applications of the OT in the NT era. At the beginning of Romans 15, Paul is still dealing with the same broader topic of relationships in the church between the “weak” and the “strong,” specifically with regard to the issue of eating meat prohibited under the OT Law. Believers on both sides of the issue were to pursue peace (14:19) and seek to please each other instead of themselves (15:2).
In verse 3, Paul supports this last exhortation by quoting from Psalm 69:9, and placing the words in the mouth of Christ instead of David, as the perfect fulfillment of David’s attitude and actions in the psalm.
Paul then digs a little deeper, laying one further Ground below his quotation, explaining why he quoted from the OT to exhort the believers. In doing so, he makes a massive claim for the OT that has an instant practical application for our theology of worship: Everything written in the OT was written specifically for the instruction of NT believers.
“Whatever” was written (4a) is pretty comprehensive! And “our instruction” is obviously referring not only to Jewish believers but Gentiles too, since Paul is writing to a mixed church (1:13 makes this very clear). Of course, NT believers weren’t the original audience of the psalms, but Paul disabuses us of any notion that the OT was written for Israel, and that we modern Gentile Christians are only a secondary audience, reading “someone else’s mail,” as it were.
So why was the OT written? To instruct us. And why should we read it and follow it? So that we can “have hope” as we endured and stuck closely to the encouragement of the Scriptures (4c-e).
2. 1 Corinthians 9:3-14.
From chapters 8-11 of 1 Corinthians, Paul instructs the Corinthians on how to resolve the controversy about eating meat that had been offered to idols. In chapter 9, he is supporting his advice by his personal example as an apostle.
Verses 4-12 are structured as a Bilateral, with 4-7 and 11-12 functioning as the main point, supported by 8-10. Paul had a right to financial support as an apostle because of Deuteronomy 25:4, which he quotes in verse 9.
The significance of verses 9-10 for our discussion on worship cannot be overstated: Paul clearly says that God’s command in the Law “was written for our sake”—that is, for those who were to obey the Law, not for animals. Paul includes his post-resurrection, Gentile audience in the group for whom this law was written!
I’m not saying that modern-day believers in the church are under the Old Covenant as a covenant; what I’m saying is that verses 8-9 make clear that the OT’s validity and authority did not expire with the dawning of the New Covenant era.
3. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13
In chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the sinful example of OT Israel to warn the church against sinning in idolatry.
It is striking that, in doing so, Paul calls OT Israel “our fathers”—the ancestors of Gentile believers! Even though they were part of God’s people delivered from Egypt, God killed many of them because of their idolatry, sexual immorality, and putting Christ to the test. And these accounts were written not only for OT believers but also “for our instruction” (11b). Paul is specifically referring to NT believers, since he calls his audience those “on whom the end of the ages has come” (11b).
At the heart of his argument is the assumption of the continuing validity and authority of the OT writings for NT believers.
Therefore, when dealing with the issue of worship in the church, we must search the OT to learn God’s will in this matter. The Mosaic Law and its commands, far from being obsolete, speak to our current situation and should guide us in our daily church life.
Next, I will look at 2 Timothy 3:10-17, which is one final text that describes the importance of the OT for us today. Then I will turn to the instructions of the NT regarding worship.
Jesus condemns people’s hypocritical passion for their own traditions over God’s commands.
The heart of Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees is in 3b-9b, where Jesus answers the Pharisees’ question with a sharp rebuke.
His answer reveals the sin at the heart of the Pharisees’ love of tradition: Even though God had commanded honour to one’s father and mother, the Pharisees nullified that command so that they could keep their own tradition (3-6). Their sin was elevating their rules above God’s rules.
That meant that the Pharisees were hypocrites (7-9). They were the sort of people Isaiah described, whose heart was miles away from God; therefore, their worship was unacceptable as they taught their thoughts as if they were God’s thoughts.
We can discover the kind of worship God accepts by flipping around the Pharisees’ actions: True worship involves a heart that is near to God, not merely a mouth that speaks words, and an exaltation of and submission to God’s written Word.
The author of Hebrews also describes “acceptable worship” in Hebrews 12:28: “let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” So even in the New Covenant era, after the cross, it is possible to offer to God unacceptable worship. At least part of acceptable worship involves a “reverence and awe,” as Hebrews 12:28 makes clear, but submission to God’s Word is also central, as we saw in Matthew 15:9.
Based on this passage, I conclude that Jesus would condemn our own passion for any elements of worship that are not directly commanded by God in his Word. He rejects any worship that prioritizes our own innovations rather than what he has directly commanded us to do in public worship.
That conclusion forces us to ask another question: Did God reveal to us, in the NT, how he wants us to worship? And does he expect us today to obey his OT commands regarding worship?
To that question I will turn in posts on Romans 15:1-6, 1 Corinthians 9:3-14, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, and 2 Timothy 3:10-17.
Asking and answering doctrinal questions with specific passages, carefully studied.
Drinking beer in the presence of God
Are Christians allowed to drink wine or beer? Does the Bible condemn all drinking of alcohol? Does God command Christians to abstain from all drinking of strong drink?
These are controversial questions, but I believe the answer of the Bible about drinking alcohol is clear. We are all familiar, probably, with passages like Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” It is fair to say that he Bible is filled with warnings about alcohol: loving it leads to poverty (Prov 21:17), and to sorrow, folly, and addiction (Prov 23:29-35).
But does this mean God absolutely forbids alcohol consumption? Well, the Bible is also filled with warnings about sex, about the dangers of immorality; yet modern evangelicals would never say that is is forbidden! God has given us sexual desires, but in a fallen world, with sin-corrupted hearts, we must beware the dangers of following them sinfully.
What the Bible teaches about alcohol is the same. In the context of all the warnings, we must consider passages like Deuteronomy 14:22-27. This is one of two passages that teaches something surprising about alcohol—surprising from most modern Christians’ perspective, anyway.
The main point of this text is that God’s people should tithe from their increase so that they would fear the LORD, and joyfully eat that tithe.
I want to zoom in on verses 24-27. There, we learn that if an Israelite could not carry the tithe of sheep, for example, from his home to the tabernacle because it was too far away, God allowed him to sell the sheep and bring the money as his tithe to Jerusalem.
When in Jerusalem, what he could spend the money? Notice the freedom God gives in 26a: “for whatever you desire.” Then God gives some possibilities, including “wine or strong drink.” And he tells his people to “eat … before the LORD your God”—to drink beer in the presence of God, enjoying it and enjoying him!
Therefore, it is clear that the Bible does not categorically condemn wine or strong drink as a beverage for his people. Yes, beware its dangers; yes, make sure you live in love and don’t give cause to another believer to stumble into soul-destroying sin (Rom 14:15, 21). But don’t condemn a believer for drinking at all; this is to go beyond what is written in Scripture and put a burden of obedience on people that the Bible does not place on them (see Matt 23:4).
When the apostles died, their God-given, Spirit-inspired authority continued through these writings. The apostles appointed men to replace them as leaders in particular churches. However, they did not confer their apostolic authority upon these men nor could they have. True apostolic authority came directly from the Lord Jesus not from human beings. As the apostles neared the end of their lives, they urged their followers to continue in the apostolic teachings: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you––guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us…And the things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Tim 1:13–14; 2:2).
That is an extremely helpful point, Nate. We still live under apostolic authority, which is located in the inspired writings of the New Testament (and the OT is inspired as well, of course, and is authoritative as well). We haven’t lost our need of apostles, and God has graciously provided their unchanging writings, given by inspiration of the Spirit.
Your quotation from Schnabel helped confirm my interpretation of Scripture, but from a different direction than I had thought of it before. It is vital that we not proclaim our own experience in our witness, but the gospel according to the apostolic writings.
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Brandon, here is a reference sheet of English conjunctions from the Arcing Course. It is not an exhaustive list but it is quite thorough. The middle symbol for each item is a specific label used for arcing/bracketing. For the sake of the Paraphrase Course, simply note that the symbols S, A, and P are all Parallel connections, while all the rest are Supporting connections.
Arcing/bracketing helped with determining what the main argument is. There is some overlay of the study methods. So the main-point in bracketing is often also the main argument in phrasing. Arcing/bracketing helped in how to arrange some of the phrases like a -/+ relationship. - If that does not make sense - don’t worry you’ll pick it all up eventually.
I usually do arcing and phrasing on all the passages I study. Depending on time though, I’m way more fluent in arcing and use it when there is limited time.
And yes, some methods are better for certain passages. Basically, a passage from Paul is usually focusing on arguments - hence phrasing. A narrative in the gospels is often a sequence of events - so arcing is a good choice. Having said that, I find that phrasing does the best job in visualizing any text.
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@Keith-Kresge Those are good suggestions, Keith. We’re working on Biblearc 3.0, and since you’ve posted those ideas, we have them to consider and implement.
Please feel free to post other suggestions as well; it is very helpful to hear how others are using the tools available on Biblearc, so we can make them as useful as possible.
@Jesudas Good morning: I’m just wondering what you’re trying to do with your recent posts. Are you having a difficult time posting what you want? There are only symbols here in your post, but the title is from Romans 7. Did you have a specific question about Romans 7?
No había en esos días un rey para el pueblo de Dios. Cuando la figura de autoridad no estuvo presente, ellos comenzaron a hacer conforme a su propio criterio, conforme a lo que ellos les agradaba.
Algo muy similar a esto es lo que ocurre en la iglesia en nuestros tiempos, no porque carezcamos de autoridad, pues tenemos la Palabra de Dios, sino porque no queremos verla. Debido a esto la tendencia es a hacer lo que nos parece bien, no lo que Dios ha dicho, a enfocarnos en qué quiere la gente, no en qué quiere Dios, en complacer a las masas, no en darles lo que Dios tiene para ellas.
IGLESIA, existimos para ser el cuerpo de Cristo, para dar a conocer las virtudes de aquel que nos llamó de las tinieblas a Su luz admirable, y para ello, Dios nos ha equipado con Su Palabra, en la cual nos revela cuál es el tipo de adoración (y por ende adoradores) que Él busca. No haciendo lo que a nosotros nos parece bien, sino aquello que Él ha expresado que Le parece bien, que Le es agradable.
@Sebastián-Winkler Muchas gracias, creo que es correcto pues en timoteo 3 se precisa mejor.
Dios te bendiga.
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