Friday, June 22, 2012

Should we still be keeping the Law of Moses?

Replica of an ancient Torah scroll, from
Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary 
I've asked TFCers to read the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7), find something they don't understand, try to figure it out, and then email or bring it on Monday for discussion. Here's one I've been considering:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place."
Matthew 5:17–18 (NET)
Jesus says that he hasn't come to abolish the Law, but neither has he come to preserve it -- he has has come to fulfill it.  That can mean two things:

  1. The promises made in the Law and Prophets will come true in him.
  2. The reason the Law was given, to make people holy, will finally happen.[1]
In some ways, verses 17-20 are Jesus' "thesis statement" for the rest of the sermon: no matter what you have heard about the Law before, it isn't enough to go through the motions externally. From now on, your righteousness must exceed even that of those rule-keepers, the Pharisees -- it has to come from inside you. In other words, keep the spirit of the Law, not just the letter.

What are some of your questions about the Sermon on the Mount? Comment below, or come share them this Monday, 6:30pm at Berthusen Park!

[1] Credit: Barton, B. B. (1996). Matthew. Lifeapplication Bible commentary (86–87). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The World's Most Advanced Study Bible - for FREE!

Have you ever read something in the Bible, and thought, "Hmm... I wish I could learn more about that? 
Have you ever wondered:
  • What St. Peter means when he says Jesus "went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison"? (1 Peter 3:19)
  • What the Temple that Jesus visited in Jerusalem looked like? 
  • What the number 666 might actually refer to in Rev 13:18?
Nothing can replace reading your Bible and asking God to open your heart to his message. But sometimes, having a tool like a study Bible can help you gain insights you would have just from reading the text.

Introducing the Faithlife Study Bible
Logos Bible Software (my "other" job) has just announced this exciting new resource for studying and understanding the Bible. Check out the video:

FSB works best on a tablet like an iPad, 
but you can also use it on a smartphone, 
installed to your computer, or just online
I've been using the FSB for a few months now, and it has been become my first line of study when I come across a verse I don't understand. It has thousands of study notes, hundreds of pictures and videos, and in-depth articles with the included Lexham Bible Dictionary. I highly recommend it.

Share your study.
You can also use Faithlife to connect with your church or study group.  Set up a reading plan to study the Bible together.  Make a note on a verse, and the rest of your group will see it when they read that passage.
When you sign up for Faithlife, make sure to join us at - we will be using it in the future to read through Scripture together!

Best of all, it's FREE. 
The FSB will eventually be subscription-based, but you can use it until March 2014 for absolutely nothing. Just use the coupon code FREE at!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Support TFC this Summer!

This time of year, the TFC bank account often runs low. Bible Quizzing is out of season, people have other things on their mind, and donations to TFC often drop in the summer.  However, we still have the same expenses; we are still hard at work with quiz demonstrations, Monday night youth meetings, and other projects.

Your continued financial support over the summer is vital to our ministry. Any amount helps! Visit for a one-time donation, or setup an automatic payment starting at only $10/month. And thank you for your generosity!

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Mark of Spiritual Maturity

How do you know if you are growing in Christ?  Our unity with other believers is perhaps the most important way to measure spiritual maturity.

It's too common for us in the American church    in our individualistic culture  to focus exclusively on our personal relationship with Jesus. We forget or overlook that  almost all of the New Testament's teaching about faith is in terms of community of other believers.

The verse of the day reminded me this morning of one of my favorite passages in the Bible:
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
Ephesians 4:13 (ESV)
This is by no means the only place the NT teaches the importance of relationships in the Church, but the emphasis here is especially easy to see. 

The purpose is to reach maturity... the "fullness of Christ."

But how do I do that?
On my own?
Spending more time with Jesus?

Well, no. At least, that's not all. Don't get me wrong; the Greatest Commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matt 22:37)  But that's not enough. There is a reason that the second is "love your neighbor as yourself:" You can't have one without the other.

Let's look at the rest of the passage:

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 
4There is
    one body and
    one Spirit
       — just as you were called to the
      one hope that belongs to your call —
     5one Lord,
    one faith,
    one baptism,
    6one God and Father of all,
     who is over all and through all and in all. 
7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. ... 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. 
Ephesians 4:1–16 (ESV)

Apart from the fact that the whole picture of "Body" is one of togetherness, notice how many "unity" words there are here: "with one another... unity... bond... one, one, one... building up... unity..."  Wow, do you think there's a message here? The author even says how to have unity with others: verses 2 and 3.

If you want community with people, you must have humility, patience, and love... which come from Christ.
If you want to grow up in Christ, you also have to grow together with his followers.