Category: Educational

Psalm 51: Repenting Like David

Posted by on 09/20/2017 in: ,

Psalm 51 has long been one of my favorite passages of Scripture, and I came to love it because of Jon Foreman’s song White as Snow. Funny thing is, this psalm is entirely about sin. It’s pretty humbling to read (and even more humbling to sing and confess to God yourself!).

This week, we have the MacArthur Study Bible with ESV on sale, so I was looking through it. I came across MacArthur’s notes on this passage, and they were so helpful in reminding me of the power of this psalm.

BACKGROUND

If you didn’t know already, here’s the background of Psalm 51:

“This is the classic passage in the OT on man’s repentance and God’s forgiveness of sin. Along with Ps. 32, it was written by David after his affair with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah, her husband (2 Sam. 11–12). It is one of seven poems called penitential psalms (Ps. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). To David’s credit, he recognized fully how horrendous his sin was against God, blamed no one but himself, and begged for divine forgiveness.

OUTLINE: Plea for Forgiveness (51:1–2); Proffer of Confession (51:3–6); Prayer for Moral Cleanness (51:7–12); Promise of Renewed Service (51:13–17); Petition for National Restoration (51:18–19).”

TAKEAWAYS

Ps. 51:1 steadfast love. “Even though he had sinned horribly, David knew that forgiveness was available, based on God’s covenant love.”

Have you ever been overwhelmed by your own sin, to the point of believing that God would abandon you? Or perhaps, you are so frustrated by what you have done, you become severely depressed and don’t know how you can keep on going? Sin can make us feel as if we are entirely unloveable.

But MacArthur points out here in his notes that David, before apologizing for his sin, calls on God’s unconditional love. Remember, David just MURDERED someone. Murder! I can’t image the weight of the shame and guilt he must have been carrying. I’m so thankful that the Bible doesn’t cover up the mistakes God’s people. Instead, we can read this and be encouraged.

Ps. 51:4 Against you, you only. “David realized what every believer seeking forgiveness must, that even though he had tragically wronged Bathsheba and Uriah, his ultimate crime was against God and his holy law (cf. 2 Sam. 11:27). Romans 3:4 quotes Ps. 51:4.”

When we sin, it is so important to remember that our mistakes are ultimately against God. I can think of two good reasons for meditating on this idea. The first is that we don’t want to act as if our sin only has to do with other people—it affects our relationship with God and we need reconciliation with Him. We need to ask for forgiveness! But also, we know that God is faithful and just to forgive us, and it is His forgiveness that matters. We are able to move past our sin and pursue holiness, even when the people we have sinned against won’t accept our apology.

Ps. 51:6 you will not delight in sacrifice. “Ritual without genuine repentance is useless. However, with a right heart attitude, sacrifices were acceptable (see v. 19).”

What kind of rituals surrounding repentance have we created? Maybe at your church, you recite a prayer of repentance each week. Or, it may be that you have a habit of asking God for forgiveness, but it’s become numb to you. God cares less about the action and more about the heart. Make sure to take the time you need to truly repent of your wrongdoing. Your relationship with God (and own struggle with sin, guilt, and shame) will be better for it.

LEARN MORE

These insights were inspired by the MacArthur Study Bible with ESV. Not only are there notes about Psalm 51 that I didn’t cover, but there are thousands of other notes, giving insight to all the passages of the Bible! This title is currently a part of our Fall Sale, so head on over to our website to learn more about it.

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5 Biblical Words for Love

Posted by on 09/14/2017 in: ,

MATTHEW 22:36-40 KJV

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. 

WHAT IS LOVE?

We are called to love God and love others, but how do we understand what love really is?

Studies of 5 Hebrew and Greek words for love help us understand what loving someone really means.

1. AHAB

Hebrew word for love. Describes a variety of intensely close emotional bonds. So Abraham loved his son Isaac (Gen. 22:2), Isaac loved his son Esau (Gen. 25:28), and “Israel loved Joseph more than all his children” (Gen. 37:3).

In a more romantic manner, Isaac loved his wife Rebekah (Gen. 24:67), and Jacob loved Rachel (Gen. 29:18), but Delilah manipulated Samson by challenging his love for her (Judg. 14:16). We are all called to love the Lord, by expressing obedience to His commandments (Deut. 6:5), and to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Lev. 19:18). Moreover, “he that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul” (Prov. 19:8).

2. AGAPAO

God’s love is described as the Greek word agapao, which means unconditional love, preferential love that is chosen and acted out by the will. It is not love based on the goodness of the beloved, or upon natural affinity or emotion. Rather this is benevolent love that always seeks the good of the beloved.

This type of love is exclusive to the Christian community because it flows directly from God’s love: “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7,8).

3. AGAPE

Although common in both the Septuagint and the New Testament, the word rarely occurs in existing secular Greek manuscripts of the period. Like its synonym philia, it designates love between persons (John 13:35), or people for God (1 John 2:15), of God for humanity (Rom. 5:8), and of God for Christ (John 17:26).

Whereas phila emphasizes the idea of love arising from personal relationships, agape is founded upon deep appreciation and high regard. It is perhaps for this reason that agape is the love which God commands.

4. PHILEO

One of four greek words for love, this one signifies friendship, fondness, affection, delight, and personal attachment. This word is on of feeling – a heart of love – whereas agape is a matter of benevolence, duty, and commitment. We are commanded to have agape love (Matt. 5:44) but not phileolove because feelings cannot be commanded.

Phileo is also the word for “kiss.” Jesus asked peter if he had unconditional, sacrificial agape love, but Peter responded that he had phileo, or brotherly love. Peter’s love deepened, and he wrote of agape love in his later books.

5. PHILADELPHIA

With the roots words phileo, “to love,” and adelphos “brother,” this word signifies loving someone like a brother or sister. We might think of it as fraternal affection.

This is not the love God has for us, but rather love between brothers and sisters in Christ. It implies that a familial bond between people who would not otherwise share affection is possible through Christ.

LEARN MORE

This blog was adapted from the KJV Word Study Bible! We just released this title, bundled with KJV Strong’s. This week it is available for $19.99. Learn more here.

What does “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” mean to you?

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7 Reasons to Study the Cultural Backgrounds of the Bible

Posted by on 09/06/2017 in: ,

7 REASONS

1. Understand the audience: Grasping the original audience’s perspective helps us understand the setting to which the inspired authors communicated their message.

2. Understand how the text communicates: A text is ideas linked by threads of writing. Each phrase and each word communicates by the ideas and thoughts that they will trigger in the reader or hearer.

3. Biblical writers made assumptions: Biblical writers normally could take for granted that their audiences shared their language and culture; some matters, therefore, they assumed rather than stated. Think about what happens when later audiences from different cultures read the text without the same un-stated understandings as the original audience.

4. Understand the differences: We can see the differences between [ancient people] and us. To better understand how they would have interpreted what was being shared to them.

5. Understand what issues were being addressed: When we hear the message in its authentic, original cultural setting we can reapply it afresh for our own different setting most fully, because we understand what issues were really being addressed.

6. Prevent imposing your own culture: If we know nothing of the ancient world, we will be inclined to impose our own culture and worldview on the Biblical text. This will always be detrimental to our understanding.

7. Fill in the gaps: As each person hears or reads the text, the message takes for granted underlying gaps that need to be filled with meaning by the audience. It is theologically essential that we fill [the gaps] appropriately.

LEARN MORE

This blog was adapted from the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, which is available for both NKJV and NIV. Check them out on our website and grow in your understanding of the culture of the Bible!

NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible

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11 Principles for Studying Biblical Culture

Posted by on 09/05/2017 in: ,

Proverbs 2:1-2, 5-6 NKJV

“My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding…
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

STUDYING CULTURAL BACKGROUNDS

The study of cultural backgrounds is important because grasping the original audience’s perspective helps us understand the setting in which the inspired authors communicated their message. What we learn may show contrasts as well as similarities between our own culture and that of the ancient world. Here are some principles to consider when evaluating the biblical text with its ancient contexts:

11 PRINCIPLES

  1. Both cultural similarities and cultural differences must be considered.
  2. Similarities may suggest a common cultural heritage rather than borrowing from a specific piece of literature.
  3. It is common to find similarities at the surface but differences at the conceptual level or vice versa.
  4. All elements of the text must be understood in their own context as accurately as possible before cross-cultural comparisons are made.
  5. Proximity in time, geography and spheres of cultural contact all increase the possibility of interaction leading to influence.
  6. A case for literary borrowing can rarely be made and requires identification of likely channels of transmission.
  7. Similar functions may be performed by different genres in different cultures.
  8. When literary or cultural elements are borrowed they may in turn be transformed into something quite different.
  9. A single culture will rarely be monolithic, either in a contemporary cross-section or in consideration of a passage of time.
  10. Specificity in marking dates for events in the ancient world is inherently debatable. There was no universal cultural reference point with which the ancients could mark time (such as our dates of BC and AD). Different cultures used different historical reference points when marking time, so that even when researchers find recorded dates in ancient cultural literature or on artifacts, these can rarely be cited as definitive. The differences in dates for specific events in the Old Testament notes reflect this reality as various contributors reflect their own assessments. The earlier the time period, the more tenuous the dating becomes.
  11. Cultural terms in the text of the notes (e.g., use of the term “Palestine” in the Old Testament, which refers to the larger region in which the Hebrew people lived), do not refer to current political realities unless the notes indicate such.

LEARN MORE

This blog post was adapted from the NKJV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible which is on sale right now in our store.

What benefits have you experienced in learning cultural backgrounds of the Bible? Comment below!

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Read & Study the
Bible in New Ways

Posted by on 08/24/2017 in: ,

The Bible is an ancient text. So, it isn’t surprising when we get a little bored while reading it—especially with our entertainment-saturated culture. The average person watches only 10-seconds of a video on Facebook! If our attention spans can only handle 10-seconds of a video, how can we possibly stay focused while reading a historic text over and over again for our entire lives?

Well, we have a few ideas for you! This blog post will offer five ways to study and read the Bible in a fresh way.

1) READ DIFFERENT TRANSLATIONS

Ever wondered what the difference is between all the English Bible translations? There are so many! The best way to think about this is to imagine a spectrum. One on end, there are Bibles that are translated word-for-word. These are very literal. Then, on the other side, you have Bibles that are paraphrased versions. In the middle, you have Bibles that are translated by sentence or thought.

So, why would you want to read different translations? Languages are complex with idioms and phrases that don’t translate well word-for-word. At the same time, a paraphrase may miss out on key details. Comparing translations will give you the full picture, and also give you a fresh perspective on the verses you have read several times over.

In our app, it’s super easy to read two translations at once. Just pull open another Bible in the split-screen window!

2) CHECK OUT THE CROSS REFERENCES

Have you ever noticed the little green letters that appear in your Bible in our app? Those are cross references! Any time a verse appears that corresponds directly to another verse in the Bible, it gets tagged. Here’s an example:

In John 1, we learn about Jesus being at the beginning of all creation, bringing everything to life. Verse 5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” If you look closely, you’ll see an “h” appear right after the verse number. By tapping this, you’ll pull up the list of cross references, and you can look at the corresponding verses in the pop-up window. This cross reference took us to John 3:19, which talks about light coming into the world, but humanity hating the light because they were evil and loved darkness. Put together, we can now understand that John is foreshadowing Christ’s coming and death in the beginning chapters of his book.

So, how can using cross references help you read the Bible in fresh ways? The Bible is one, big historical narrative that tells the story of God redeeming his people. When we use cross references, we are able to more clearly see the connections between these events, the ways God fulfilled His promises, and the richness of the text.

3) USE GOSPEL HARMONIES

We’ve created Gospel Harmonies to make studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John easier. Instead of flipping through your Bible to find the stories that correspond to one another, we’ve made them available in one screen. The best way to explain this is to show you.

Why use Gospel Harmonies? Each Gospel is written by a different author and with a different intention. By comparing all accounts, you can make sure to catch all the details, and perhaps make new connections you wouldn’t have made otherwise. We sell these Gospel Harmonies in several different translations as well: NASB, KJV, ESV, NIV, NKJV, NA28 with Parsings & Dictionary, and Byzantine Greek New Testament. Currently, these are all 50% off!

4) TRY A CHRONOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE

Chronological study Bibles are just what they sound like—Bibles arranged in chronological order with study notes inserted. How does this work? Here’s an example! The Chronological Study Bible (NKJV) starts the New Testament with Matthew 1:25, covering Jesus’ genealogy. There are a few study notes on the culture and society during Jesus’ birth. Verse 25 ends with Joseph believing that Mary is still a virgin and naming his son Jesus… and then the text jumps to Luke 2:1-20, sharing the more detailed account of Mary and Joseph heading to Bethlehem.

Reading a chronological study Bible can rejuvenate your quiet time by helping you see the story of God’s Word. All of the different historical accounts interact with one another and show God’s faithfulness through time. When you read it in order, you will be able to insert yourself into the story, too.

Other recommended chronological study Bibles:
Chronological Life Application Study Bible NLT (20% off)
KJV Reese Chronological Study Bible (50% off)

5) LOOK AT STUDY NOTES

Study notes provide deeper insights into the text of the Bible. Although they aren’t as developed as commentaries are, they are still very helpful when coming across difficult passages. Here’s a few study Bibles that we recommend:


NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (50% off)
Archaeological Study Bible Notes
NIV Zondervan Study Bible

FIND A NEW BOOK

Sometimes, we just need to be encouraged by another person, a new voice, or a fresh perspective. Right now we have titles on sale that are aimed at helping you read and study the Bible in new ways. You can look through the entire sale here.

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The Value of Systematic Theology

Posted by on 08/11/2017 in:

WHAT IS SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY?

Systematic theology is any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic.” —Wayne Grudem

Everyone is a theologian! Everyone has beliefs about God, what saves them, and how they should live. What makes Systematic Theology special is the way it considers the Bible as a whole when looking at a topic. Like a puzzle, theologians collect and understand all the relevant passages in the Bible on a topic and then summarize this information in clear teaching. Thankfully, people like Wayne Grudem have already done a lot of the hard work. We can use their research to help further our understanding of God and the Bible.

GRUDEM’S SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

Grudem’s Systematic Theology is widely read and very accepted in Christian academic circles. This edition has several distinct features, such as keeping technical terms at a minimum, a friendly and emotive tone, and frequent life-application notes. If you’re looking for your first systematic theology or more solid teaching, this is a great resource. Learn more by following the link above.

ORIGINALLY $39.99 | NOW: $19.99

VIDEO: WAYNE GRUDEM EXPLAINS SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

Although a bit out-dated (in regards to branding!), this video contains great content about Systematic Theology. So, we’re sharing it anyway. Forgive us for the “Bible Reader” references.

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Theology of the Psalms

Posted by on 08/04/2017 in: ,

“Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD—that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” —Psalm 83:18

As human words to and about God, the psalms instruct us in myriad ways about how to worship God. They teach us how to sing, dance, rejoice, give thanks, confess sin, grieve, express anger, make requests of God, proclaim God’s name far and wide, and much more. They are a rich resource both for individual and corporate use.

As God’s Word to us, the book of Psalms engages almost all of the great themes of the Bible. Beginning with the introductory Psalms 1–2, the Psalter lays out the two ways (that of the righteous versus that of the wicked), the importance of relying on God and His Word, God’s sovereignty and rule over all people and nations (and his attendant concern for them), the interplay between divine and human kingship, and God as a place of refuge for all.

The Psalter’s overarching theme celebrates God’s sovereign rule as the great King over all things. The climactic declaration is that “the LORD reigns.” God rules over creation itself and over all nations and people groups — including his own chosen people Israel — down to each individual person. He is a good God: holy, loving, merciful, protective of his people, faithful, a keeper of promises, a giver of good gifts. He is a just God: vindicating his people, punishing evil, caring for the marginalized. He is a great and powerful God: the Creator and Sustainer of all things, mightier than any god humans can conjure up, more powerful than all the nations and armies of the world.

As the sovereign King, God asserts his control over the most powerful forces in nature. He proclaims his authority over all the false gods of the nations, gods that were such a temptation for his own people time and time again. He opposes the wicked, whether individuals (e.g., 1:4 – 6) or nations (e.g., Psalm 2), and will mete out justice for their wickedness. He protects the vulnerable in society — the widow, the fatherless, the outsider, and the poor — and expects his representatives on earth to carry out this mission.

God’s plan for the nations is that his people Israel be a testimony to them, causing them to turn to God; it is an inclusive vision that shows God’s desire for all peoples to know him. God chose Jerusalem (i.e., Mount Zion) to be the earthly “capital” of God’s kingdom; this was the site of the temple, which was God’s dwelling place on the earth. He anointed David and his descendants to be his royal representatives on earth — his vice­regents — and so the Davidic kings had great responsibility for leading the nation in following the Lord and defending the cause of justice in society. In all of this, God himself is the source of ultimate refuge for those who are troubled.

The psalms represent a priceless treasure trove of resources for relating to God in all circumstances. They instruct us in how to live, and they teach us great truths about God the great King, his sovereign rule over all things, and his plan for reconciling the world to himself through his Son Jesus, the Christ.

What’s your favorite Psalm and why?

This blog is the last post in our NIV Zondervan Study Bible blog series! See the firstsecondthird and fourth blog posts by following the links.

You can have insightful introductions like this to every book of the Bible with theNIV Zondervan Study Bible. Learn more here.

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Paul’s Greeting to the Philippians

Posted by on 08/03/2017 in: ,

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:1-6

Verse-by-Verse Insights
1:1 – 2 Opening Greeting. As in most ancient letters, the authors and recipients are both mentioned at the beginning.

1:1 Paul and Timothy. Paul often co-authored letters with Timothy. The son of a Jewish mother and Greek father (Acts 16:1), Timothy was from Lystra, and after Paul visited there on his second missionary journey, he took Timothy along as a co-worker (Philippians 2:19 – 24).

God’s holy people. As people who belong to God and are incorporated into his service, they are set apart from the world for him. The Old Testament uses the phrase “holy people” of Israel (e.g., Exodus 22:31), so it is striking that Paul can freely apply it to what was probably a pre-dominantly Gentile congregation in Philippi. As Paul emphasizes in chapter 3, those who believe in Christ and are incorporated into him now share in the privileges God bestowed on Israel in the Old Testament.

holy. Christ’s death has made Christians holy (Ephesians 5:25 – 26).

in Christ Jesus at Philippi. Expresses the double location of believers: (1) they are in Christ, no longer in Adam but members of Christ’s body, and (2) they belong to the Roman colony of Philippi.

overseers. Synonymous with “elders,” men responsible for the spiritual direction of and preaching in the congregation (1 Timothy 3:1 – 7).

deacons. Responsible for affairs in the church of a more practical nature. The role has its origin in the difficult situation in Acts 6:1 – 6, where believers select “deacons” to distribute the food to widows. This is no lowly task, however, for those appointed in Acts 6 were “known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3); deacons must display traits of mature godliness (1 Timothy 3:8 – 10, 12 – 13).

1:2 Adapting elements from Jewish and Greek letter writing, Paul prays for the Philippians to receive “grace” (God’s work in them to accomplish what they cannot do on their own) and “peace” (experiencing the blessings of being reconciled to God).

1:3 – 8 Thanksgiving. Paul expresses his great love for the Philippians, as is evident from the joy (verse 4), confidence (verse 6), and affection (verse 8) with which he thanks God for them.

1:4 with joy. Paul expresses the emotions that accompany his prayers, first mentioning joy.

1:5 partnership. Paul rejoices that the Philippians join in the work of the gospel, which includes financially supporting him (Philippians 4:15).

from the first day. When they first accepted the gospel (compare Philippians 4:15).

1:6 being confident. A second emotion (after joy in verse Philippians 4:4) that remembering the Philippians prompts. Paul’s confidence in God’s sovereignty leads not to inactivity but to prayer for what he knows God will do. Paul is convinced that prayers are a means God uses to accomplish his purposes.

work in you. Paul knows that the Philippians’ perseverance in the faith and the gospel fruit that they bear are the work of God himself (Philippians 2:12 – 13).

the day of Christ Jesus. God’s faithful work in them endures right up until the day on which Jesus returns.

What is something new you might take away from this passage after reading it a couple times?

This blog is a part of our NIV Zondervan Study Bible blog series! See the firstsecond, and third blog posts by following the links.

All of this content and more can be tucked right inside your Bible when you use our app. Learn more here.

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4 Scriptural Types of Worship

Posted by on 07/31/2017 in: ,

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” –Psalm 95:6 NIV

Worship is a dominant theme from Genesis to Revelation because the God who created all things and redeemed us in Christ is worthy to receive all honor, praise, service, and respect (e.g., Gen 12:7-8; 14:19-20; Exod 15:1-18, 21; Rev 4:11; 5:9-10, 12). Four groups of words throughout the Bible convey aspects of what we commonly call “worship.” New Testament writers use these and related terms in a transformed way to show how Jesus has fulfilled for us the pattern of worship given to Israel.

1) Worship as Homage or Grateful Submission to God:

The most common word for “worship” literally means “bend over” or “bow down.” It describes a gesture of respect or submission to human beings, to God, or to idols (Gen 18:2, Exod 18:7, 20:4-6). Combined with other gesture-words this term came to be used for the attitude of homage that the gesture represented.

Also, people sometimes expressed homage to God with prayer or praise (Gen 24:26-27, 52; Exod 34:8-9) and sometimes with silent acceptance or submission (Exod 4:31; Judg 7:15). The book of Psalms contains many different expressions of worship, including lament, repentance, prayers for vindication, songs of thanksgiving, and praise. “Bending over to the Lord” now means responding with repentance and faith to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:36-39; 10:36-43; cf. Rom 10:9-13). Such worship involves praying to him (Acts 7:59-60; 1 Cor 16:22; 1 Thess 3:11), calling on his name (1 Cor 1:2; Heb 13:15), and obeying him.

2) Worship as Service to Others:

Another group of biblical terms often translated “worship” literally means “serve” or “service.” The people of Israel were saved from slavery in Egypt so that they could serve the Lord (Exod 3:12; 4:23; 8:1). The parallel expressions “offer sacrifices to the Lord” (Exod 3:18; 5:3, 8, 17; 8:8, 25-29) and “hold a festival” (Exod 5:1) indicate that some form of ritual service was immediately in view. The sacrificial system was given to Israel to enable cleansing from sin, consecration to God’s service, and expressions of gratitude to God (Lev 1-7). The New Testament describes Jesus’ death as “a sacrifice of atonement, through shedding of his blood – to be received through faith” (Rom 3:25; cf Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2). In response to what God has done for us in Christ, we are to present our bodies to him as “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Rom 12:1; cf Rom 6:13, 16). In particular, Christians are to offer to God through Jesus “a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Heb 13:15).

3) Worship As Reverence or Respect for God:

There is a third group of words sometimes describes worship differently than the previous examples. Words meaning fear, reverence, or respect for God indicate the need to keep his commands (Deut 5:29; 6:2, 24; Eccl 12:13), obey his voice (1 Sam 12:14; Hag 1:12), walk in his ways (Deut 8:6; 10:12; 2 Chr 6:31), turn from evil (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; 28:28; Prov 3:7), and serve him (Deut 6:13; 10:20; Josh 24:14; Jonah 1:9). Sacrifice and other rituals expressed reverence for God, but faithfulness and obedience to the covenant demands of God in every sphere of life also distinguished true from false religion (Exod 18:21; Ps 25:14; Mal 3:16; 4:2). The New Testament indicated that humanity’s failure to fear God and show him proper respect brings his wrath (Rom 1:18-25; Rev 14:6-7). Only by being “redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ” can we be set free to serve God “in reverent fear” (1 Pet 1:17-21; cf. Heb 12:28-29).

4) Worship And Congregational Gatherings:

Worship in the Old Testament sometimes had a corporate expression, and this was meant to encourage God’s people to serve him faithfully in their individual lives (Isa 1:10-17; Jer 7:1-29). The New Testament rarely applies the specific word “worship” to Christian meetings (but see Acts 13:2, 1 Cor 14:25). Nevertheless, prayer, praise, and submission to God’s will were central to congregational gatherings (Acts 2:42-47; 4:23-37; Eph 5:18-20; Col 3:16-17).

It may be best to speak of congregational worship as a particular expression of the total life-response that is the worship described in the new covenant. In the giving and receiving of various ministries, we may encounter God and submit ourselves to him afresh in praise and obedience, repentance, and faith (Heb 10:24-25). Singing to God is an important aspect of corporate worship, but it is not the supreme or only way of expressing devotion to God. Ministry exercised for the building up of the body of Christ in teaching, exhorting, and praying is a significant way of worshiping and glorifying God.

Which of these types of worship do you most often engage in?

Like what you read? This blog was adapted from content found in the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, available in our store. Look for a new blog post being released each day this week for our NIV Zondervan Study Bible blog series.

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3 Ways Bible Dictionaries Improve Your Bible Study

Posted by on 07/24/2017 in: ,

You know what a Bible is. You also know what a dictionary is. But do you know what a Bible dictionary is, or why you should use one? Here’s three reasons to use a Bible dictionary, based on my own recent study of God’s Word.

LEARN A LITTLE CHRISTIAN TRIVIA

I was reading Psalm 111 the other day and decided to pull open the Resource Guide. As I was scrolling, I noticed that “Hallelujah” was listed under Topics. Now, I know that “Hallelujah” means “Praise the Lord” (and the app told me this, too), but I was curious if there was any other information on the phrase that I hadn’t heard before.

When I tapped on “Hallelujah” and opened my Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, I learned something hilarious. You see, when I was in high school, I sang in the choir, and we always sang songs that incorporated “Alleluia.” Turns out that, according to Vine’s, it’s a misspelling of “Hallelujah”! All this time I’ve been wondering what the difference was…

 


LEARN ABOUT GOD’S PROMISES IN HISTORY

Exodus 4 is another passage I was looking at recently. It’s here that Moses is instructed to inform Pharaoh that Israel is Yahweh’s “firstborn.” If Pharaoh does not relinquish the Israelites, God promises to kill the Egyptian ruler’s his firstborn son.

“Firstborn” is most definitely a key word in this passage–but what is its significance? There is a deep, rich history of God expressing the closeness of His relationship to the Israelites through this term, that is discoverable through using a Bible dictionary. Vine’s provides references to many other passages that teach about the cultural view of firstborn children in the Israelite community, revealing that it was a coveted position that held many benefits. A firstborn son was considered to be the most loved and to receive the greatest inheritance.

So, when the Israelites hear that God has called them His “firstborn,” a lot of emotions are stirred! According to Vine’s, being God’s “firstborn” meant enjoying a privileged position and blessings, in comparison all other nations. In Exodus 4, God is making it known that Israel is His prized child, and that no one—not even Pharaoh—can mess with them.


LEARN ABOUT GOD’S PROMISES FOR TODAY

But it doesn’t stop there. Vine’s is searchable, like a normal dictionary, and you can find a word’s definition for either the Old or New Testament. By looking up “firstborn” in the New Testament, I found passage after passage where Jesus is referred to as the “firstborn” (protokos) of creation. The most interesting reference I found was when John the Baptist proclaims that “He (Jesus) was first (protos) of me.” He’s saying much more than “Jesus was born before I was.” Instead, he is putting Jesus in the ultimate privileged position with God, receiving the highest blessing, because he is not just a son, but the Son.

Now, the important question: how does this apply to our lives? Time and time again we see God be faithful to His people, the Israelites. Better yet, we see the Father praise, glorify, and bless His Son. This seems like a pretty exclusive group.

But, we’re invited! When we believe in Christ’s atoning work, we are welcomed into this family. We enter this promise, into this privileged position with God. If you study the word “firstborn” across the Old and New Testaments, you can learn more about the history of God blessing those He calls His own. For thousands and thousands of years, God has been drawing people to Himself—and you are one of them.


ONE LAST THOUGHT

Overall, the main reason to use a Bible dictionary is this: The Bible is not our own. The Bible is a compilation of God speaking to His people through His people, in a time and culture we weren’t around for.  So, although we have been welcomed into this family, we must recognize that this family has existed for thousands of years! That takes a bit of help and research to understand—but it’s worth the investment.

This week, we are discounting Bible dictionaries in hopes of encouraging deeper study of God’s Word. Check out the Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words or the Anchor Bible Dictionary (6 vols.) while they’re on sale.

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