Author Archives for LaRosa Johnson

Give Us Barabbas!

March 26, 2018 10:21 am Published by Leave your thoughts

When we look at the Passion Week, we rightly look to the work of Jesus Christ. We even focus on individuals like the disciples or Pilate. Yet, a character we rarely give any attention to is Barabbas, the man who was freed in place of Jesus. So, as we look ahead to Resurrection Sunday, I want us to take a look at this man and see what we can learn from him. Who Was Barabbas? Of all the characters that make an appearance during the Passion Week, Barabbas is one of the few names found in all four gospels (Matthew 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39-19:16). But, who was this man? At this time in Israel’s history the people were anxiously looking for the Messiah who would restore their former glory and free them from Roman oppression. Because of this, many individuals arose taking on the moniker, only to fall flat on their face. We cannot know for sure if Barabbas ever claimed such a title, but he at least participated in revolts seeking Israel’s freedom. The New Testament authors describe him as: notorious, a rebel, a murderer, an insurrectionist, and a robber. None of these terms are endearing... View Article

Look Inside: Life Application Bible Commentary

February 6, 2018 7:00 am Published by 3 Comments

While there are lots of commentary sets that have been published over the years, there are very few that everyone should own. Tyndale’s Life Application Bible Commentary is one of those few. It presents a unique blend of verse-by-verse commentary alongside riveting sermon & lesson applications and quotes from greats in Church history. It’s one of those rare commentaries that hits the sweet spot of explaining the Scripture without getting too deep, while not forgetting to apply it to the here & now. This great New Testament commentary set is available for the app, and we want to show you what you get when you add it to your library. What You Get The Life Application Bible Commentary provides verse-by-verse explanation, background, and application for every verse in the New Testament. In addition, it gives personal help, teaching notes, and sermon ideas for applying God’s Word. Each volume contains introduction and commentary. The beautiful thing about using the Life Application Bible Commentary in the app is using with Resource Guide. Instead of hunting for the right place in the commentary, it’ll always be in the right spot when you need it. Introductions The introduction includes an overview of the book, the book’s historical context,... View Article

The Five Solas:
God’s Glory Alone

November 1, 2017 9:15 am Published by Leave your thoughts

SOLI DEO GLORIA Sola scriptura. Sola Fide. Sola Gratia. Solus Christus. Each of these on their own is a strong rallying cry and doctrine worth defending. Yet, each becomes stronger when joined with the final sola, soli deo gloria. Glory to God alone. This is the glue that holds all the other solas together. Compared to the other four, the need to defend God’s glory seems unnecessary. Who in their right mind would not give God glory for all he has done? For the Reformers, all five pillars stood on one key word: alone. Scripture alone is our final authority. Salvation is in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone. The Reformers protested that the Roman Catholic Church was altering and adding to the gospel. It was the Bible and tradition and the Pope; it was us working with Christ; faith and good works; and so on. With these additions to the gospel, it was no longer God alone who could glory in our salvation. In other words, if we have a hand in even the slightest part of our salvation we have reason to boast & glory in ourselves. Yet, the Reformation sought to rightly teach the gospel as... View Article

The Five Solas:
Christ Alone

October 24, 2017 7:00 am Published by 1 Comment

“… for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12 CHRIST ALONE Of the five solas, solus Christus is the most important. This sola unifies all the others. Without the person and work of Jesus Christ we have nothing to talk about. Jesus is the interpretative key of the Bible (sola scriptura). Christ is the means by which we receive God’s grace (sola gratia). By itself faith merits nothing, it is Christ as the object of our faith that matters (sola fide). Finally, Jesus did it all for God’s glory alone (soli deo gloria). While it’s easy to understand how Jesus is at the center of the solas, what do we mean when we say “Christ alone”? The answer is multifaceted. First, “Christ alone” is the only way man can enter heaven. 1 Timothy 2:5 tells us that Jesus is the sole mediator between God and man. There is no reconciliation except through him. Second, “Christ alone” means Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are wholly sufficient to secure our salvation. There is no “Christ and…,” but “Christ alone.” We do not need anymore priests, sacrifices, or good works. Christ... View Article

The Five Solas:
Grace Alone

October 18, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people Titus 2:11 SOLA GRATIA – GRACE ALONE Three of the five solas are so intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish their nuances. The Reformers believed that salvation is through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone. These three solas operate synergistically & describe how man can be made right with God. Grace is throughout all the Bible’s pages, from Genesis to Revelation. It is at the heart of the gospel and an essential part of God’s character. In it’s simplest terms, grace can be defined as getting something you do not deserve. Of the five solas, this is the least disputed, but often the most overlooked. HISTORY While oft agreed upon, that is not to say it has been without dispute in Church history. The most memorable dispute occurred between Pelagius and Augustine. Pelagius believed man was not entirely affected by the Fall, and was able to perform good works that pleased God, thus earning salvation. His teachings denied the need for God to provide grace in order to be saved. In his view, man was good enough to earn his own salvation & Jesus was more... View Article

The Five Solas:
Faith Alone

October 9, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

FAITH ALONE? One of the pillars of the Reformation was the belief that we are saved by faith alone. The cry sola fide declared that we come to salvation, not through any righteousness of our own, but solely through the work and person of Jesus Christ. What does faith alone mean? This is the doctrine of justification. Here are some of the questions the Reformers sought to answer: Are we saved by faith alone or faith plus works? Does Christ’s righteousness only clean our slate of past sins (before salvation)? Does Christ’s righteousness wholly replace our own? Sola fide declares that we are saved by faith alone and all of Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account. There is nothing more we can or need to do to achieve our salvation. If there were remaining work on our end, then salvation would be in our hands, not God’s. DOES IT MATTER? While this may have been an important question for the Reformers, does it still matter 500 years later? The answer is a resounding yes! Throughout history the question has not changed: How can a person be made right with God? We all must confront this question, and sola fide... View Article

How-To Do a Word Study

October 5, 2017 7:00 am Published by 6 Comments

While many have lamented the thought of having to learn the original languages in Bible college or seminary, I relished the idea. I saw it as an opportunity to unlock a new world of Bible study that would give me greater insight for Bible interpretation. But after several years of study I learned something very important. My English Bible was enough! Yes, there were times when knowing Greek and Hebrew proved useful; but, for the most part, I found Bible translators had done a great job in conveying the thoughts of the Bible’s authors. But I was still asking myself: “How can I effectively use the original languages in my Bible study?” Are you wondering the same thing? Let me share what I’ve learned. FIND A WORD TO STUDY A few years ago I was teaching through 1 Thessalonians at my church. As I was reading through the second chapter, I encountered a phrase in verse 4 that made me pause: “we have been approved by God.” The word “approved” felt a bit awkward to me, so I decided to investigate. To get started, I switched from my standard ESV Bible to the ESV with Strong’s tagging. Then, I tapped on... View Article

The Five Solas:
Scripture Alone

October 3, 2017 10:56 am Published by 2 Comments

THE HISTORY When the Reformation began the doctrine of Scripture was central. During this time the Bible was not something for the common man. Through the centuries the Roman Catholic church had elevated the authority of tradition and the papal office’s interpretation over that of scripture itself. The Bible had not authority in the lives of Christians or even its teachers. In 1516, a year before Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Erasmus of Rotterdam published a Greek New Testament alongside the Latin text of the Vulgate. Through his own reading of the Bible and reading this Greek New Testament, Luther was led away from Roman Catholic traditions that had obscured the gospel. No longer relying on tradition but scripture alone, Luther rediscovered the heart of the gospel. Others like Ulrich Zwingli were also affected and began preaching through the New Testament. SOLA SCRIPTURA What does “sola scriptura” mean? In a nutshell, it speaks to the authority of the Bible for the church. Because God’s Word is inspired, inerrant, and wholly sufficient, it alone is the final authority for the church and the Christian. This means, Christians are not to place feelings, tradition,... View Article

Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines: Learning for a Lifetime

September 18, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

There are lots of ways to learn the Bible, but one of the better ways is to start is by getting an overview of the Bible’s big picture. Warren Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old and New Testament is a fantastic tool for achieving this. HISTORY The content in this book grew out of Bible studies Wiersbe prepared during his time at Calvary Baptist Church in Covington, Kentucky. Taking the course his predecessor, Dr. D. B. Easter, had devised, Wiersbe taught it to his congregation and distributed lessons week by week to his students. Eventually other churches heard about it and wanted to do the same, so the material was compiled into a notebook and published by the church. Now, in a more permanent form, an updated and revised version is available for all to partake. The structure of Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines is straightforward. Each book of the Bible gives you three things: 1) a simple suggested outline for each book of the Bible, 2) some essential introductory material, and 3) summaries for key passages & chapters. Let’s look at how these work in the Olive Tree Bible Study app, using James as our launching point. OUTLINES When you start... View Article

Why Does God Allow Trials?

September 16, 2017 7:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Have you ever wondered why God allows us to experience trials? Here are eight purposes for trials in the life of the Christian. But first, here is some scripture: JAMES 1:2-3 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” 1. TO TEST THE STRENGTH OF OUR FAITH Trials help us take inventory of our faith and see how strong or weak it truly is. God tested the children of Israel (Ex. 16:4), Hezekiah (2 Chron. 32:31), and many others in Scripture. 2. TO HUMBLE US As we grow spiritually, sometimes we can become proud and puffed up because of what we know. Thus, trials are meant to humble us and prevent such spiritual pride. Paul was humbled because of the things God had shown him (2 Cor. 12:7). 3. TO WEAN US FROM OUR DEPENDENCE ON WORLDLY THINGS Too often we trust in ourselves and our own means. Trials remind us that we need to depend on God alone for spiritual strength and satisfaction. This is why Jesus challenged the disciples when it came time to feed five thousand followers (John 6:5-6). 4. TO... View Article