Col. 2:16-19 - Study Guide PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:16

Colossians 2:16-19 - “A Mind Freed by Christ”
Study Guide

Passage Outline

A Mind Freed by Christ is a mind...

  1. Freed from Error: Jewish Legalism & Pagan Religion

    1. Jewish Legalism v. 16

    2. Pagan Religion v. 18

  2. Devoted to Christ

    1. Not to Ceremonies & Self-Righteousness, but a Spiritual Relationship with Christ v. 17

    2. Not to Speculation & Lies, but Christ and His Wisdom v. 19a

  3. Growing in Christ’s Wisdom

    1. The Place of Growth: Growing in His Body v. 19b

    2. The Means of Growth: Growing in His Nourishment & Fellowship v. 19c

    3. The Nature of Growth: Growing in His Godliness v. 19d

For Discussion

  1. According to Lev. 23:37-38 and Ezek. 45:17, how were “food and drink” and a “festival, new moon, or a Sabbath” connected? Of what general category of activities is Paul speaking here, and what does that imply about why we should “let no one pass judgment” on us regarding them?

  2. Is Paul saying that the Old Testament Sabbath need not be kept in the New Testament? Consider the distinction between the weekly Sabbath in Lev. 23:3 and the feasts listed in Lev. 23:4-43, which are also called “Sabbaths” in Lev. 23:24, 32, and 39.

  3. If the Old Testament’s ceremonies were a “shadow” and Christ is the “substance,” why were the Jews right to keep those ceremonies, and why would New Testament Christians be wrong to do so?

  4. What can we learn from the “shadows” in the Old Testament?

  5. What are the characteristics of pagan religion in v. 18? Are they the same or different from modern Charismatic Christianity?

  6. What pagan ideas are we tempted to follow today?

  7. Is fasting a Christian counterpart to asceticism? In what ways are they similar? In what ways are they different? In the spirit of 2 Cor. 10:5, how could we “take every thought” of asceticism “captive to the obedience of Christ?” Consider Matt. 6:16-18.

  8. What does Paul indicate is the key problem with both Jewish Legalism and Pagan Religion?

  9. What are some practical ways we can turn away from error and devote ourselves more fully to Christ?

  10. If we have turned away from the world’s wisdom and are devoted to Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will grow in Christ’s wisdom. Where should we seek to find that growth? What is the means of that growth? What is the nature of that growth? See v. 19.

  11. What are the 3 “means of grace?” How do you grow through each one?

  12. In what ways does fellowship help us grow as Christians?

  13. What are some practical ways we can seek out Christ’s nourishment and fellowship? Growth in Godliness?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 April 2007 17:23
Matt. 27:57-28:15 - The Battle for the Bones of Jesus PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Wednesday, 11 April 2007 13:21

Matthew 27:57-28:15
The Battle for the Bones of Jesus”
Tim Black

  1. Introduction - “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

    1. The Documentary

      1. Title: “The Lost Tomb of Jesus”

      2. Produced by James Cameron, the director of a documentary on the “Titanic.” Directed by Simcha Jacobovici, a Jew.

      3. Aired March 4, 2007 on the Discovery Channel.

    2. Its Facts

      1. Tomb was discovered in 1980 in the Jerusalem suburb of Talpiot.

      2. It contained 10 ossuaries, which are “bone boxes,” which contained the bones of people who had been buried in the tomb. Six of the ossuaries were inscribed with the name of the person whose bones were contained in each box. The names are written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, and most are written legibly enough that I can read them. Those names read:

        1. Matia / Matthew

        2. Jose / Joseph

        3. Maria / Mary

        4. Yeshua Bar Yoseph / Jesus, son of Joseph (poorly written)

        5. Mariamene e Mara / Mary (could read Mary and Martha)

        6. Yehuda bar Yeshua / Judah, son of Jesus

      3. Mark 6:3 says that Jesus had several brothers, and lists them as “James, Joses, Judas, and Simon.” Jesus also had sisters, Salome and perhaps Miriam.

      4. After the bone boxes were taken out of the tomb and examined, the bones were reburied to respect the wishes of the Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.

    3. Its Claims

      1. The documentary takes these facts and claims they indicate this was the tomb of Jesus, and that it contained the bones of Jesus. The documentary proposes the following conclusions:

        1. Jesus did not physically rise from the dead, though He may have risen from the dead in a “spiritual” way.1

        2. Mary Magdalene was buried in the tomb (assuming she was Mariamene).

        3. Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife.

        4. A stone box labeled “Judah, son of Jesus” belonged to their son.

        5. Mary the mother of Jesus was buried near him, as was a relative named Matthew.

        6. Claims to give tangible historical evidence for the mere fact of Jesus’ existence.

      2. The key argument in support of these claims is that it is statistically improbable that so many names which scripture indicates are the names of Jesus’ family members would appear in a tomb together, unless it was in fact the tomb of Jesus’ family. The statistical argument runs like this: Scripture does not say Jesus had relatives named Judah or Matthew who might be buried in the same tomb with him, so they are left out of the equation. The remaining four names were had by 1/190, 1/160, 1/20, and 1/4 people in Jesus’ day, so by multiplying those fractions together, and correcting for possible error, conservatively, we would expect these names to occur together only in 1/600 tombs.

    4. Its Evaluation

      1. This statistical argument is flawed.

        1. First, because these names are common names. The director claims the name used on the ossuary for Mary Magdalene, Mariamene, was rare, had only by 1/160 people, but in fact it is just a different form of the far more common name Mary, had by 1/4 people. This in itself drastically decreases the odds that this was the tomb of Jesus.

        2. Second, because Jose could be Jesus’ father Joseph rather than His brother Jose. In that case, the probability of finding a bone box named “Jesus, son of Joseph” next to a bone box named “Joseph” is very high. It is no surprise to find these two bone boxes next to each other; they are not statistically independent of one another. This second flaw in the statistics reduces the odds that this was the tomb of the Biblical Jesus in a similarly drastic manner.2

        3. Third, the presence of names in the tomb which scripture does not indicate are relatives of Jesus serves to further reduce the odds that this was the tomb of Jesus.

        4. The documentary is unwilling to take these further statistical considerations into account.

      2. There are many other arguments both for and against the claims of the documentary. Notable arguments against the documentary:

        1. Illegible writing. The inscription that is claimed to read “Jesus” is the hardest to read, and may not actually spell “Jesus” but rather some other name.

        2. Incorrect theology. Why would Jesus’ followers write on His bone box that He was the “Son of Joseph” when they knew Joseph was not His biological father?

        3. No support by archaeologists. Top archaeologists consider the movie’s claims preposterous. The original discoverer of the tomb denies that it could be the tomb of Jesus.3

        4. Other burial places more well attested. There are other more historically trustworthy locations for the burial place of Jesus—at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and of His mother Mary—either beneath the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, or in Ephesus.

        5. Dr. James H. Charlesworth, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary says:

          • 1) The scribbling is not an inscription, it is a sloppy graffiti.

          • 2) The name “Jesus” before “son of Joseph” is the most difficult name to read among all the names in the tomb.

          • 3) All archaeologists and historians know that the names “Jesus” and “Joseph” are two of the most common names in first-century Jerusalem.

          • 4) The ossuary is remarkably ordinary without any ornamentation; this may indicate that the remains placed inside belonged to someone rather common.

          • 5) After Jesus’ crucifixion as a common criminal, some priests wanted to stop (even kill) those who were claiming that Jesus was the Son of God because God had raised him from the dead. They could have produced the bones of Jesus rather easily and thus thwarted those who claimed that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

          • 6) The so-called “Jesus tomb” is not far from the place where Caiaphas’s ossuary was recovered. The “Jesus tomb” is decorated and elegant and would have been clearly visible before 70 CE when Roman soldiers destroyed the area. The priests who sought to stop the Palestinian Jesus Movement would have known about this tomb, regardless of who was placed inside.

          • 7) The authors of the Gospels report that Jesus was placed in a tomb prepared for the family of Joseph of Arimathea; there is no New Testament evidence that Jesus’ family had a tomb.”4

    1. The broader problem

      1. In recent years marketers have started a new tradition of coming out with these sorts of critiques of traditional Christianity right before Easter.

        1. Last year it was Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code novel and movie.

        2. In previous years it has been a resurgence of interest in the Gnostic gospels and TV programs claiming that Jesus was merely human.

        3. Other fantastic claims that have been made:

          • Jesus was a woman.

          • Jesus was a space alien and is buried in Japan.

          • Jesus survived the crucifixion and is buried in the Kashmir region of India.

          • Jesus was insane.

          • Jesus was a Buddhist.

          • Jesus was a Muslim.

          • Jesus was a Mormon.

          • Jesus was a magician.

          • Jesus was a Gnostic.

          • Jesus was the son of Mary and a Roman solider.

          • Jesus never existed.

          • Jesus was never executed.

          • Jesus was married and had children.

          • Jesus was a social revolutionary when he was not a mere Mediterranean peasant.

          • Jesus was an itinerant visionary whose real teachings exist only in distorted, fragmented form.

      2. Why do people do this? It is because there is a battle for the bones of Jesus.

        1. That battle is a physical battle, an intellectual battle, and a spiritual battle. Our passage today has 4 sections:

          • Jesus is buried 27:57-61

          • The guard at the tomb 27:62-66

          • The resurrection 28:1-10

          • The report of the guard 28:11-15

        2. In the first and third sections the text focuses on the actions of believers. In the second and fourth sections the text focuses on the actions of unbelievers. The believers bury Christ’s body and witness His resurrection. The unbelievers seek to prevent Christ’s body from being stolen and to explain away the resurrection. This juxtaposition of the contrasting and conflicting actions of believers and unbelievers indicates there is a battle. And it is a battle for the bones of Jesus.

1“If Jesus’ mortal remains have been found, this would contradict the idea of a physical ascension but not the idea of a spiritual ascension.” Quoted from http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/theology/theology.html.

2By my very unscientific reworking of the statistics, the odds are not 600 to 1 for, but 13.2 to 10 against, this being the tomb of Jesus.

3“The official report written by the archeologist Amos Kloner found nothing remarkable in the discovery. The cave, it said, was probably in use by three or four generations of Jews from the beginning of the Common Era. It was disturbed in antiquity, and vandalized. The names on the boxes were common in the first century (25 percent of women in Jerusalem, for example, were called Miriam or a derivative).” Quoted from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17328478/site/newsweek/page/2/.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 13:27
Matt. 27:57-28:15 - Study Guide PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Wednesday, 11 April 2007 13:17

Matthew 27:57-28:15 - “The Battle for the Bones of Jesus”
Study Guide

Passage Outline

  1. The Physical Battle

    1. Believers: Jesus is buried by Joseph of Arimathea 27:57-61

      1. Joseph was a “disciple of Jesus” v. 57

      2. Joseph “asked for the body” v. 58 - In order to keep Jewish law, not to gain possession of Christ’s body

      3. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.” v. 61 - the location of this tomb was known

    2. Unbelievers: The guard at the tomb 27:62-66

      1. after the day of Preparation” v. 62 - Manner: Impiety? - Business on the Sabbath

      2. imposter...fraud” vv. 63, 64 - Mindset: Defame Christ and His disciples

      3. tomb to be made secure” v. 66 - Means: Keep Christ’s bones in the tomb

  2. The Intellectual Battle: The report of the guard 28:11-15

    1. all that had taken place” v. 11 - The truth

    2. taken counsel...we will satisfy him” vv. 12, 14 - The conspiracy

    3. a sufficient sum of money” v. 12 - The bribe

    4. stole Him away” v. 13 - The lie

    5. this story has been spread” v. 15 - The effect

  3. The Spiritual Battle: The resurrection 28:1-10

    1. The angel: Spiritual power! 1-4

      1. a great earthquake” v. 2

      2. angel of the Lord” v. 2

      3. rolled back the stone” v. 2

      4. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.” v. 3

      5. for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.” v. 4

    2. The message 5-7

      1. Do not be afraid...He is not here, for He has risen.” vv. 5-7

    3. Your response 8-10

      1. Spiritually – your response to Christ v. 9

      2. Intellectually – your message v. 8

      3. Physically – your conviction about the location of Jesus’ bones v. 10

For Discussion:

  1. What would it have meant to “win” or “lose” the physical battle for the bones of Jesus? The intellectual battle? The spiritual battle? Has this battle been won? Who has won the battle?

  2. Name one reason “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” documentary could be in error that it has discovered the tomb—and the bones—of Jesus Christ.

  3. How could the general public have learned of the location of Jesus’ tomb? See 27:61, and 28:15. Does this make it more likely the traditionally-held location of Jesus’ tomb is correct?

  4. Who is lying, according to Matthew? According to the Jews? Whose story do you find more convincing? Why? Give two reasons the Jews’ story is not true.

  5. Are angels more powerful than God? See vv. 2-6, Isaiah 6:2-3. How does the angel’s power compare to Jesus’ power? Who would be most likely to be able to win a physical, intellectual, or spiritual battle for the bones of Jesus—the Jews? The angel? Jesus Himself? You?

  6. What are some of the responses of unbelievers to the empty tomb? Of believers?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 April 2007 13:22
1 Th. 4:9-12 - Excel in the Grace of Giving PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Monday, 02 April 2007 07:26

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
"Excel in the Grace of Giving"
NAS text
Tim Black

  1. Introduction

    1. There is a family which lives a few miles from my parents’ house in rural eastern Washington, I’ll call them the Thompsons. Mrs. Thompson’s husband had died from cancer, leaving her to care for her two daughters who were in grade school, and try to earn a living at the same time. The Thompsons became just one of a long list of needy families over the years to whom my parents have given food, clothing, a little money, a place to stay. Every Tuesday night, my Mom would pick up several neighborhood kids, including little Amber Thompson, to give them a ride to the boys’ and girls’ clubs at our church called Calvinettes and Cadets. And today, partly as a result of my parents’ kindness, Amber has professed faith in Christ, and has become a faithful member of a Reformed church. The Lord used my parents’ generosity to add one lost sheep to the other 99 in His fold. He can use your generosity to do the same.

    2. Especially in the 70’s and 80’s, in the earlier years of their marriage, my parents never had very much money, but they always had enough to give something to a family in need. They never called our family “needy;” it was always other families who were needy, and to whom we should offer our help. I can see now that this was not a pull-yourselves-up-by-your-own-bootstraps pride, but rather it was humility; it was not pride, but rather generosity.

    3. Mom and Dad were living out what Paul instructs us to do in Ephesians 4:28, that “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” And let me tell you, there is hardly a better way to show someone how great is God’s love for them in Christ than to offer them some food, some clothing, to invite them into your family, and into the family of God, when a person is in need. If you know how great Christ’s love is for you, and if you love Jesus Christ for dying on the cross for your sins, then you will extend Christ’s saving love to the needy in this way. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 25, “37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'

    4. It is this same love, God’s saving love for those who are weak, downcast, who are lost in their sin and their misery, which the Thessalonians had begun to show to their needy neighbors in Macedonia. Reminding them that they have begun well, now Paul exhorts them to excel still more in this grace of giving, so that they will bear much fruit for the kingdom of God. And so God exhorts us today as well in this passage to do the same; now that we have begun to give, we must work so we will be able to give more to those who are in need, and thereby we will bear much fruit.

    5. We will consider this passage under 3 headings, then, first, in vv. 9-10a, “You have begun to give.” Second, in vv. 10b-11, “Work to give more.” And third, in v. 12, “Then you will bear much fruit.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 April 2007 20:07
Col. 2:8-10 - A Worldview According to Christ PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Tim Black   
Monday, 19 March 2007 14:57

Colossians 2:8-10
A Worldview According to Christ”
Tim Black

  1. Introduction

    1. When you live in a culture for a while you pick up parts of its lifestyle.

      1. Growing up in rural Eastern Washington I learned to wear jeans to all occasions except Sunday morning worship, to which any kind of khakis, slacks, or dress pants were appropriate.

      2. At seminary in Philadelphia I learned that khakis, slacks, and dress pants were the norm all the time, and jeans are looked down on just a little.

      3. And in Uganda I learned that men should never wear shorts, because only little boys wear shorts!

    2. We don’t just pick up our culture’s styles of clothing, but also its assumptions, its deeply-held beliefs and practices that seem to be the only way the world can work. We generally agree with a lot of them, like these:

      1. Of course you need a car to survive.”

      2. Of course you need roads to travel.”

      3. Of course modern science and technology and medicine are good for us.”

    3. It’s pretty easy to agree with those. But how about this one: “Of course abortion and divorce are the norm.” Whoa. Or how about this one: “Of course sex on television is just entertainment.”

    4. We immediately know those last two assumptions are wrong for a Christian to agree to. But when we are faced with a temptation to give in to one of those last two assumptions, our culture is pushing hard for us to make that wrong choice.

    5. Once we’ve picked up the habits of our culture, it’s easy to change the style of our clothes, but it’s sometimes harder to change our mind.

    6. We need to examine our worldview to see if it is constructed according to the pattern of the world, or according to Christ.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 March 2007 07:24
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