Tuesday Teaching Tips 157, “Brilliant Barnabas – Acts 15”

I’m having trouble with the YouTube embed feature. In the meantime please follow this link to find the video version of this post.

Barnabas is brilliant. But what is it that makes him so “effective” as a speaker (Acts 14:1)?  We don’t know much about his technique, but we know a lot about his character and his spirituality.

In this series we will investigate brilliant Barnabas in the book of Acts and beyond. In doing so I hope we will all gain insights which will help us to be as effective as him.

We move on today to Acts 15.

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm 

“Three big questions”. Objections to the resurrection 2

“The disciples hallucinated a risen Jesus”

I’m having trouble with the YouTube embed feature. In the meantime please follow this link to find the video version of this post.

This Friday’s question is: “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” We’ll tackle common objections to the resurrection including today’s, which is:

“The disciples hallucinated a risen Jesus”

How would you answer this objection?

Send me your thoughts and come, if you can, to Bracknell Leisure Centre this Friday 25th May, 8pm. Let’s learn together.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Three big questions”. Objections to the resurrection 1

“The disciples went to the wrong tomb”

I’m having trouble with the YouTube embed feature. In the meantime please follow this link to find the video version of this post.

This Friday’s question is: “Did Jesus really rise from the dead?” We’ll tackle common objections to the resurrection including today’s, which is:

“The disciples went to the wrong tomb”

How would you answer this objection? Send me your thoughts and come, if you can, to Bracknell Leisure Centre this Friday 25th May, 8pm. Let’s learn together.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Bonus Episode, “Were Adam and Eve created at the same time?”

“In Genesis 1.27 it says God created mankind male and female and he created them, which appears to suggest they were created at the same time. Some online sites suggests that Adam had a first wife Lilith. Then in Genesis 2 it explains that God created Eve from Adam as his helper.”

Judaism

  • Lilith is a figure in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud (3rd to 5th century AD).
  • Alphabet of Ben Sira is considered to be the oldest form of the story of Lilith as Adam’s first wife. 8th-10th centuries CE.  Mud before rib.

“Desert creatures will meet with hyenas, and wild goats will bleat to each other; there the night creatures [lilit] will also lie down and find for themselves places of rest.” (Isaiah 34:14 NIV11)

  • Cannot form a doctrine from one word in one verse which has nothing to do with Adam & Eve

Gen 1 – big picture Gen 2 – zooming in to a place
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27 NIV11)

“We got married and had two children.”

  • No time described
  • No order regarding the children described

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7 NIV11)

“The naming of the animals, a scene which portrays man as monarch of all he surveys, poignantly reveals him as a social being, made for fellowship, not power: he will not live until he loves, giving himself away (24) to another on his own level. So the woman is presented wholly as his partner and counterpart; nothing is yet said of her as childbearer. She is valued for herself alone.” Kidner, Derek. Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. TOTC 1. IVP/Accordance electronic edition, version 2.3. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1967.

“Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.  The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” (Genesis 2:22–25 NIV11)
“This at last…” NRSV

“They were both naked, they needed no cloaths for defense against cold or heat, for neither could be injurious to them: they needed none for ornament. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Nay, they needed none for decency, they were naked, and had no reason to be ashamed. They knew not what shame was, so the Chaldee reads it. Blushing is now the colour of virtue, but it was not the colour of innocency.” Wesley, John. Wesley’s Notes on the Bible. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.3. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1997.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/lilith/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith.

The Sunday Sample: Episode 83. “Posture in Corporate Worship”.

Part 1 – physical movement.

I’m having trouble with the YouTube embed feature. In the meantime please follow this link to find the video version of this post.

What is the usefulness and relevance of movement and posture in corporate worship? This is the first in a series on this topic inspired by a chapter in “Participating in Worship” by Craig Douglas Erickson.

Today we look at the issue of physical movement.

In many church traditions movement can involve a procession in and out of the main building, movement to the communion rail or to a baptismal font. In my congregational context such movement is not practised or, perhaps, even relevant. However, I believe there is value in physical movement.

Many of us are kinetic learners. There is something about doing things with our hands and moving our feet and bodies which helps us to learn and remember. Have you seen movement used to good spiritual effect in your worship context?

Here’s one example I tried in the Thames Valley church a year or so ago and again recently in the Watford Church of Christ.

In a special service focused on the nails of the cross the week before Easter, Patricia and Emma laid out string on the floor in the shape of a cross. We sat as a congregation around that cross. I gave each person a red rose petal. After talking about Jesus taking our sins on the cross we then sang a song whilst the members stood up from their chairs, walked to the string cross, bent down and put their rose petals “onto” the cross as a symbol of Jesus having taken their sins away. They then return to their seats “unburdened” of their sins.

I found it profoundly moving to participate, and also to see my friends do so, knowing that this bonded us together as a community. There was something about the movement rather than just intellectually assenting to this truth which drove the point home and helped us to share in the truth of personal and collective forgiveness in a deeper and more profound way.

Have you tried something like this? Have you seen something like this done well?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

(Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 88. “Time: energy, faith and the character of Christ”

We continue a new series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker. 

Today’s episode is not based on material in the book, but inspired by its theme.  Let’s explore the issue of time and the need for energy, faith and the character of Christ in making the best use of the time God has given us. What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Jesus seemed to have enough time for the purposes of God in his life. His energy, faith and character were adequate to the tasks laid before him. Can we learn from his example?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips: Bonus Episode, “Question about John 10.8”

I’m having trouble with the YouTube embed feature. In the meantime please follow this link to find the video version of this post.

My old friend Johnson sent me this question all the way from India. In the passage below, who is Jesus referring to when he mentions “thieves and robbers”?

Therefore Jesus said again, “All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.”

(John 10:7–9 NIV11)

Who did he have in mind? Three possibilities come to mind.

  1. Unspiritual shepherds

There may be an allusion here to OT passages like Jeremiah 23:1–8 and Ezekiel 34, in which the prophets pronounced judgment upon the shepherds of Israel for their failure to care for the people. 

    ““Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the LORD. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD. “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,         “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch,     a King who will reign wisely         and do what is just and right in the land.     In his days Judah will be saved         and Israel will live in safety.     This is the name by which he will be called:         The LORD Our Righteous Savior. “So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”” (Jeremiah 23:1–8 NIV11)

See also Ezekiel 34 – and the series by Douglas Jacoby.

2. False Messiahs

“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24 NIV11)

“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Mark 13:22 NIV11)

3. ‘The Jews’

  • Who treated the man born blind so badly.
  • Of such leaders, Jesus says, the sheep did not listen to them.
  • The man born blind certainly did not listen to them.
  • Those who belong to Jesus, the true shepherd, do not resonate with voices such as theirs.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV11)

What kind of life?
The kind of ‘life’ envisioned is connected with v9 – salvation, safety and sustenance.
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9 NIV11)

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Tuesday Teaching Tips 156, “Brilliant Barnabas – Acts 14”

Barnabas is brilliant. But what is it that makes him so “effective” as a speaker (Acts 14:1)? We don’t know much about his technique, but we know a lot about his character and his spirituality. In this series we will investigate brilliant Barnabas in the book of Acts and beyond. In doing so I hope we will all gain insights which will help us to be as effective as him.

We move on today to Acts 14.

Thank you for listening to this recording. You can find more teaching tips here and on the on the YouTube teaching tips playlist.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Thanks again for listening. Have a terrific Tuesday, and a wonderful week.

God bless,

Malcolm

“Jonah: The story of a prophet who hates God for loving his enemies”

  • Why does Jonah run?
  • Why does Jonah tell the sailers to kill him?
  • What was it like for Jonah in the fish’s stomach?
  • Why does he not say sorry?
  • What is odd about Jonah’s message?
  • Why does God provide the shade and then take it away?
  • In what ways is Jesus like Jonah?
  • In what way is Jesus different from Jonah?
  • In what ways are we like Jonah?
  • How can we be more like Jesus?

Conclusion

Are you OK with the fact that God loves your enemies?

 ““You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43–48)

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6–11)

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Three Big Questions”, Class One: “Did Jesus Exist?”

Three Big Questions

Thames Valley churches of Christ, May 2019

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22 NIV11)

Class One: “Did Jesus Exist?”

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” (1 Peter 3:15–16 NIV11)

  1. Procedure
    1. Ask what they think of Jesus
    2. Ask what kind of evidence they would need
    3. Ask if they would be open to revising their opinion
    4. Clearly, something happened or we would not have 2,000 years of Christendom

2. Tacitus – 55/56-c.118 CE

  • Annals: 116-117
  • “Neither human effort nor the emperor’s generosity nor the placating of the gods ended the scandalous belief that the fire had been ordered by Nero. Therefore, to put down the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits and punished in the most unsual ways those hated for their shameful acts … whom the crowd called “Chrestians.” The founder of this name, Christ [Christus in Latin], had been executed in the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius pilate … Suppressed for a time, the deadly superstition erupted again not only in Judea, the origin of this evil, but also in the city [Rome], where all things horrible and shameful from everywhere come together and become popular.”
  • QUESTION: WHAT DO WE NOW KNOW ABOUT JESUS?
  • Summary
    1. ……………existed
    2. …………….founded the movement
    3. Christus gave his …………. to the movement 
    4. ………….. by ………….. of Judea
    5. During ………………. of P…………….. 
    6. During reign of…………..
    7. ………………. spread to R…..… 
    8. ………………..began in J………

3. Josephus: 37-38-Early 2ndC CE

  • Jewish antiquities – Book 20
  • “Being therefore this kind of person [i.e. a heartless Sadducee], Ananus, thinking that he had a favourable opportunity because Festus had died and Albinus was still on his way, called a meeting [literally, “Sanhedrin”] of judges and brought into it the brother of Jesus-who-is-called-Messiah…James by name, and some others. He made the accusation that they had transgressed the law, and he handed them over to be stoned.”
  • Book 18 quote: 
  • “Around this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who did surprising deeds, and a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who in the first place came to love him did not give up their affection for him, for on the third day, he appeared to them restored to life. The prophets of God had prophesied this and countless other marvellous things about him. And the tribe of Christians, so-called after him, have still to this day not died out.” 
  • QUESTION: WHAT DO WE NOW KNOW ABOUT JESUS from these two quotes?
  • Summary.
    1. Jesus existed as a ……….
    2. He was called …….…
    3. He was known as someone who did ………..…
    4. He was known as a ………………
    5. His ministry was effective with ……….. people and G……………
    6. He was accused by ruling …………. authorities.
    7. Pilot s…………. him to …………..…
    8. His followers continued their ………….…
    9. His followers were called ………….…
    10. He was known as ………….… 
    11. He founded a new …………..… 
    12. It was still ………… at the time of writing.

4. Others

  • Lucian of Samosata: c. 125 – after 180 AD – “The Passing of Peregrinus” 
  • Celsus: 2nd-century Greek philosopher and opponent of early Christianity.
  • Pliny the Younger: (61 – c. 113), lawyer, author, and magistrate. 
  • Suetonius: c. 69 – after 122 AD), a Roman historian 
  • Mara bar Serapion: 1stC Stoic philosopher from the Roman province of Syria.

Conclusion

  • Early writers; Romans; Rabbinic Judaism

Suggested questions for your friend…

  • How does this evidence effect your view of Jesus?
  • How does this evidence effect your view of Christianity?
  • Would you like to know more?

“Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”  John 7.17

Resources

Next week

  • “Did Jesus come back from the dead?”

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John