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This and That

John MacArthur Isn’t That Great – My pastors invite me into their homes. They even welcome me into their cottages. They are happy to talk to me for several hours on the drives there and back. They pour their lives into mine. John MacArthur doesn’t know my name, my pastors do. MacArthur doesn’t pray for me, my pastors do. MacArthur doesn’t preach to me, my pastors do—every week. They preach the word even though its unpopular to do so. They make difficult phone calls. They baptized me. They correct me. They encourage me. They love me. They know me in ways John MacArthur cannot. I know about John MacArthur, but I know them. They are everything MacArthur instructed me to look for in local pastors. – Samuel Sey

Will a Happy Marriage Prevent an Affair? – The best, most secure and stable marriages I know are not typically those that seem “happy” in the sense of self-actualization. They are instead those marriages in which, often through deep suffering, the husband and wife model self-sacrifice and care for the other. Like Christ and the church, their one-flesh union is forged not through demands for the other to meet needs but through a sense of common purpose. In those healthy marriages, one spouse does not look to the other to provide identity. Instead, both spouses find an identity in Christ. – Russell Moore

12 Amazing Bible Studies Coming Out This Fall – The #FakeNews Bible. Featuring commentary from leading conspiracy theorists around the world, this insightful Bible shows how everything you ever believed was a lie. David and Goliath? Proof that 9/11 was an inside job. Daniel and the lion’s den. Goes straight to the heart of the moon landing conspiracy. The darkness during the crucifixion? Proof positive that the earth is flat. – Stephen Altrogge

 

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Basic Bible Podcast – Episode 002: Calling

This week we welcome back Pastor Aaron White of the River Hills Community Church in Janesville, WI.  He’s joining us as we explore the depths of Romans 8:30. Last week we chatted about predestination; this week we’ll be talking about the concept of calling.  How does God call people to Himself?  We also explore the question of why should we engage in personal evangelism if it is truly God who draws men in salvation.  You won’t want to miss out on this episode! 

Listen to the streaming audio here.
Download the mp3 here.

Recommend Resources:

Five Points by John Piper
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer
The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

Books by our Guest:

When Shadows Fall: The Grieving Saint and the Granite Promises of Romans 8

Scandalous: Recovering the Gospel that Makes Sinners Blush

The Gospel of Our Grandfathers: Preserving the Good News for Future Generations 

Basic Bible Podcast – Episode 001: Predestination

Welcome to the very first episode of the Basic Bible Podcast. We are kicking things off with a four-week look at Romans 8:30. If you are familiar with this verse you’ll realize our first podcast will be on the controversial subject of predestination. But, before you tune us out, give us a chance. We’ll explore what the Bible really has to say about a subject many people misunderstand. Joining us is Pastor Aaron White of the River Hills Community Church in Janesville, WI. Currently Pastor Aaron is preaching through the book of Romans and recent finished covering chapter 8. So instead of being controversial, our goal is simply to take this verse in its context and let you know what the Word of God actually says. I hope you’ll listen and share this with your friends!

Listen to the streaming audio here.
Download the mp3 here.

Recommended Resources:

How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home by Derek W.H. Thomas

Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner

Books by our Guest:

When Shadows Fall: The Grieving Saint and the Granite Promises of Romans 8

Scandalous: Recovering the Gospel that Makes Sinners Blush

The Gospel of Our Grandfathers: Preserving the Good News for Future Generations 

Free E-Book Alert – Ezekiel: Bowing Before Our Awesome God by Warren Wiersbe


When the Isrealites lost respect for God’s majesty, God called the prophet Ezekiel to remind His people of His holy nature. Ezekiel’s message is just as relevant for us today as it was for the Jewish people thousands of years ago. This study of Ezekiel explores what it means to worship God as a holy Lord who is worthy of our reverence.

The Wiersbe Bible Study Series delivers practical, in-depth guides to selected books of the Bible. Featuring insights from Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s Be Reverent commentary, this eight-week study includes engaging questions and practical applications that will help you connect God’s Word with your life.

An internationally renowned Bible teacher, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the popular “BE” series of Bible commentaries. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Download the book here.

Jesus the Bread of Life

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” – John 6:35-36

The crowd was looking for a meal and focused only on their own temporal needs.  Jesus rebuked them in verse 26 saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”  Kostenberger notes, “…Jesus discerns people’s true motives.  This, too, proves he is the Son of God.”[1]

Jesus points men to himself as the ultimate satisfaction of their needs both physical and spiritual.  Jesus is greater than a mere magician able to multiply loaves and fishes.  Jesus is the prophet greater than even Moses (Hebrews 3:3) who the crowds are thinking about regarding the manna in the wilderness (vs. 30).  Jesus then explains that true bread coming down from heaven is one that “gives life to the world” (vs. 33).  The crowd responds enthusiastically, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (vs. 35)  They want the bread, but Jesus gives them something they were not quite expecting.

Jesus declares himself to be the Bread of Life.  Ridderbos notes in response to the questioning he is receiving, he points not to what he can do but to who he is.  Yes, men need bread but need more than physical bread, life-giving bread.  He notes, “He not only grants that bread but is that bread.”[2]  The true bread coming down from heaven having been sent from the Father is Jesus the Son, not manna or physical food.  What mean need is not just fulfillment on physical and spiritual levels, they need Jesus in particular.  They need the one sent down from heaven by the Father to give life to all.  This is John 3:16 in edible form.

Jesus not only declares himself to be the Bread of Life, he then adds, “whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  The bread this crowd received the previous day had already been digested.  It was gone and more was needed.  The Bread of Life, however, leaves people without the need for more.

The Bread of Life is sufficient, eternally sufficient.  Partakers of this bread, those who come to Jesus in belief, will never be hungry or thirst ever again.  Why?  According to Rogers and Rogers, it is “the bread that give life; that is, everlasting life.”[3]  The life given by this Bread is not because of coming or the believing in and of themselves, but is the result of the power of the Bread.  To put it a different way, the life given by Jesus is everlasting because Jesus is everlasting.  From a human perspective, the act of belief is a necessary component of salvation, but it is not the strength of this belief or the method of one’s coming that results in everlasting life.

The Bread of Life is the satisfaction, thus those who do not taste of this bread cannot benefit from it.   Michaels confirms that these promises “are not to those whom he is speaking.”[4] Verse 36 says, “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”  The crowd is looking at Jesus and asking for bread.  They have not comprehended the fact that he indeed is the bread himself.  They look to Jesus to give them something outside of himself to satisfy their needs.  Based upon the fact that they follow him demonstrates their belief that Jesus can provide physical needs but they have failed to believe that Jesus Himself is their need.  Kruse notes, “Those who come to Jesus, i.e. those who believe in him, are brought into relationship with God…”  So this crowd is seeking for the benefits of a relationship without the relationship.  The conclusion one may draw then is there are some followers of Jesus who are not genuine in their belief and thus have no salvation which can be lost.

[1] Andreas J. Köstenberger, Encountering John: the Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective (Encountering Biblical Studies), 2 ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 1.

[2] Herman Ridderbos, The Gospel of John: a Theological Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 229.

[3] Cleon L. Rogers and Jr. & Cleon L. Rogers III, The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament(Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 197.
[4] J. Ramsey Michaels, The Gospel of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), 375.

Free E-Book – Reaching the Lost: Evangelism

The Bible calls all Christians to share the good news about Jesus’s death and resurrection with those who don’t believe in Christ, yet this task can often seem daunting. This study helps participants have the right perspectives on evangelism and shows them how to go about sharing the good news with others.

A series of ten 6–7 week studies covering the nine distinctives of a healthy church as originally laid out in Nine Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. This series explores the biblical foundations of key aspects of the church, helping Christians to live out those realities as members of a local body. Conveniently packaged and accessibly written, the format of this series is guided, inductive discussion of Scripture passages and is ideal for use in Sunday school, church-wide studies, or small group contexts.

Download the book here.

Free E-Book Alert – Counsel from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Given the apparent insufficiency of modern psychotherapies and a growing discomfort with pharmacological strategies, many churches are reaffirming the unique power of Scripture to change lives.

Through careful exegesis and helpful case studies, Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson demonstrate how to provide consistently biblical, gospel-centered care and explain why it is important to do so. If you’re involved in discipleship and mentoring, this book will teach you how to minister the gospel to those around you in ways that will truly help them.

Download the book after taking a survey here.

Jesus is Our Suffering Servant

Isaiah 53 is found within the context of what Duhm has labeled “Servant Songs” namely Isaiah 42:1-4, 49:1-6, 50:4-9, 52:13-53:12.[1]  Each of the passages references a servant that is being used of God.  Yet, Isaiah 53 does not contain a specific identification of who this servant may be.  Many have speculated this servant to be Cyrus or even Isaiah himself.  Psalm 49:3 says directly, “You are my servant Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” Yet in the following verses (5-7) this servant is referred to in a singular sense suggesting one person is in mind.  So both Israel collectively and a righteous person within the people of Israel could be possibilities.  Averbeck notes, “Still others have argued that the background in the prophetic experience of the prophets in the Old Testament generally.”[2]

It is clear from the text of Isaiah 53 that the servant is a singular person.  The servant is referred to as “he” and “him” throughout the chapter.  This “he” is sprinkled throughout references to pronouns such as “us,” “men,” and “we” which would suggest a plural sense as opposed to the singular “he” and “him.”  This servant, according to verse 12, bores the sins of many.  This a clear use of a singular pronoun acting for a plural pronoun referring to a collective group.  So it would be difficult to comprehend if this servant were representative of collective and not a singular person.  Allen notes, “What seems obvious is the Suffering Servant cannot be identified with a corporate entity such as the nation of Israel.”[3]

Who then is this singular servant?  An examination of the actions of this servant within the chapter leaves little doubt as to who this may be.   Chisholm is correct in asserting, “So we see that Isaiah’s fourth Servant Song is indeed a rags-to-riches story about, about a despised Servant who is eventually exalted because he was willing to suffer for sinners…”[4]  In the beginning of the chapter he grew up without any distinguishing majesty and was later rejected, a man of sorrows.  But he bore “our” griefs and sorrows.  God Himself struck him down but these wounds were made for “our” transgressions and iniquities.  He was a lamb led to the slaughter though he had done nothing wrong.  But this was God’s will.  Verse 6 explains all of our sins were placed on him and by his striped we are healed.  Can this description fit any other person than the Lord Jesus Christ?  A simple understanding of the theology of Paul and the four Gospels would leave little doubt as to who this would describe.  Such a description leads Allen to conclude, “If one dons New Testament glasses, it is obvious that the Servant in Isaiah 53 is none other than Jesus Christ.”[5]

Yet, even without the lens of the New Testament, one would be hard pressed to force Cyrus, Isaiah or any of the other prophets into this description.  The pronouns “us” and “our” would suggest that the Servant is distinct from Israel as the nation is most likely the ones represented in such pronouns.  Michael Brown points out that a Gentile collective of any kind must be ruled out as speaking in Isaiah 53 since the Gentiles were certainly not guiltless and nothing they did lead to healing.[6]  This is the Father speaking of His Son.

Jesus Christ indeed is the Suffering Servant.  The text itself will not allow for a collective group, either the nation of Israel or prophets in general, nor would the text allow for a mere mortal man to be represented as the Servant.  New Testament passages such as Acts 8:26-35 and I Peter 2:20-25 clearly point to Jesus using references that harken back from Isaiah 53.

However, it would be a mistake to simply end a study at this point.  Merely identifying Christ in Isaiah 53 is of little prophet if one does not use the opportunity to point men to Jesus.  Along the road to Emmaus were strangers unaware of what the Old Testament had to say about Christ.  Once they were shown, their hearts were warmed and their lives were changed forever.  At that point they understood the meaning of the death they spoke of and understood why the Messiah came to die.  Upon the Cross Christ took the sins of mankind and offered his own body as a payment for those sins.

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 was not merely a literary character but the long awaited for Messiah.  He was Israel’s hope and mankind’s Savior.  At last, what separates us from God has been torn down.  What condemns us to death has been forever settled.  May we preach this gospel to Jew and Gentile alike.

[1] Walter C. Kaiser Jr., The Identity and Mission of the “Servant of the Lord”. In The Gospel According to Isaiah 53, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2012), 87.

[2] Richard E. Averbeck, Christian Interpretations of Isaiah 53. In The Gospel According to Isaiah 53, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2012), 44.

[3]David L. Allen, Substitionary Atonement and Cultic Terminology. In The Gospel According to Isaiah 53, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2012), 184.

[4] Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Forgiveness and Salvation in Isaiah 53. In The Gospel According to Isaiah 53, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2012), 193.

[5] Ibid. Allen, 184

[6] Michael L. Brown, Jewish Interpretations of Isaiah 53. In The Gospel According to Isaiah 53, edited by Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2012), 77.

Free E-Book Alert – The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Genesis 12-25: Learning the Secret of Living by Faith

What is the secret to an obedient life? A faith that trusts in God. The life of Abraham offers a powerful look at how obedience through faith can change us and impact the world. This study examines Abraham’s journey from an everyday person to the patriarch of faith, and shares foundational principles for obedient living.

Wiersbe Bible Studies deliver practical, in-depth guides to selected books of the Bible. Featuring insights from Wiersbe’s Be Obedient commentary, this eight-week study features engaging questions and practical applications that will help you connect God’s word with your life.

Download the book here.