Category: Educational

A conversation with R. Kent Hughes

Posted by on 06/24/2014 in:

R. Kent Hughes was in pastoral ministry for 41 years, the last 27 as senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. He earned his B.A. from Whittier College (history), an M.Div. from Talbot Seminary and a D.Min. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Kent is the author of numerous books, among them the best-selling Disciplines of a Godly Man. He is also editor of the projected 50-volume Preaching the Word series to which he has made numerous contributions.

I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Hughes and ask him to share how this series came about and to reflect about the role a commentary can play in a preacher’s study.

Of the 29 volumes of the Preaching The Word Commentary, you wrote 22 volumes.
How did this project start
?

I was [the pastor] at College Church in Wheaton which had lots of students and academics. I was very careful about doing all of my work on my sermons and then making them come alive when I preached. Lane Dennis (President of Crossway) and I were at an event and he approached me about publishing my sermons. We came up with the name Preaching the Word, which comes from 2 Timothy 4:2.

As you wrote a particular commentary, what goals did you have in mind?

The commentaries are homiletically arranged with careful attention to history, background, words, structure, and theology and with a focus on clarity in how they are presented. It’s important to also know that the content of each commentary has been preached live before a congregation.

If you were to pick the type of person that The Preaching the Word series is aimed at, who would it be
?

It’s aimed at pastors, small group leaders, and Bible study groups.  For preachers, it’s not meant to be a substitute for personal study. It’s important that you do your own work first and then come to a commentary like Preaching the Word. If you come right to the commentary without doing your own study and outline first, then you’ll most likely end up preaching the commentary.

If I’m going to preach on a specific book of the Bible, what role should a commentary play in my sermon preparation?

If it were a small book like Philippians, I’d first read it 30-40 times through, mostly in my preferred translation but also in some others. If you’re able to, also read it in the Greek.  Then I’d ask, “What is the big theme of the book?” and look at structure, turning points, and applications – just try to get the text inside of me. Then I’d try and think of how to break up the book homiletically – how many sermons, where to break up the passages, and do my best to outline it.

Then, having done that, I’d open up a commentary and modify my sermon where needed. You should use a commentary like Preaching the Word as a part of your sermon-prep process. But if you use a commentary to start your process, you will become a commentary cripple.

When you look back at your own preaching ministry, what are a few things you wish you would have known as a young preacher that you’d exhort other young preachers toward today?

This matter of doing your own work is very, very important. You can borrow from all kinds of people and not really do your own thinking. The hardest thing to do is to sit down with the biblical text and ask God to help you. Do your own work first and then you can use a commentary to help you adjust.

Check out the Preaching the Word Commentary series which is on special this week.

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Tips & Refreshers for The Bible Study App

Posted by on 06/20/2014 in: ,

Get-Started-Button If you’re new to The Bible Study App, you might be asking yourself “where do I start?”  Here’s Nine Quick Tips & Refreshers to get you started in The Bible Study App. (Screenshots taken from an iPad. Please note that icon graphics vary somewhat across devices). 1. The “Library” Button: This is where you can find all of the Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, and other resources you’ve downloaded to your devices.  You can choose from All, Recent, or Favorites.

2. “My Stuff” Suitcase Button is the central nervous system of The Bible Study App. Here you can find your notes, bookmarks, highlights, tags, reading plans, and the ever important Sync button at the bottom left.  If you haven’t already done so, Click here to create an Olive Tree Account.  I can’t go into great detail here, but there are enormous benefits to creating an Olive Tree Account.  It’s Free and will only take a minute to set up.

3.“History” Button:  Do you ever get three verses into a Bible study and want to refer back to a previous verse?  The History Button is the fastest way to refer back to a previous reference.  You can view by date or by title.

4. Settings Button is where you can quickly customize the type and size of your font.  For a more customized Bible Study App experience, you can then click the “Advanced Settings” for an array of other custom settings (social network, posting, custom iOS gestures, etc) within The Bible Study App.

5. Search Button: Search anything within the resource you are currently studying. In your Bible, you can even limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, or create a custom filter or range that you define.  

6. Book Ribbons: Save your place in any resource with the Book Ribbon.  To find your place, tap the My Stuff button and then tap the Book Ribbons button.

ipad-split window button 7. The Split Window Button: You don’t have to switch back and forth to view different resources.  With the Split Window Button, you can view your Bible and your favorite commentary at the same time.  Also, our built in Resource Guide in the split window follows along, looking in your library for any information that is relevant to your reading. As you scroll or change scripture references the Resource Guide will stay in sync looking to all of your study resources making for a powerful and easy to use study tool.

 8. The Sync option: I have a terrible memory, but thanks to The Bible Study App, I’m able to overcome it…mostly.  I do my daily Bible Reading in the App and Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync takes care of it.  This allows me to go into my other devices to access and keep up with my Reading Plan.  The Bible is able to sink into my daily life and I can refer back to that morning’s reading from wherever I am – on the go with my phone, on laptop at work, at coffee shops on my iPad, or at home on my desktop.  Because of the Bible Study App Sync function, all of my custom highlights, tags, and bookmarks are always readily available.  With Olive Tree’s Automatic Background Sync, I don’t have worry about whether or not my notes, highlights, bookmarks, and book ribbons are up to date.

9. Download The Bible Study App to every device you own.  I personally have an iPhone 3GS, iPad 2, Windows Laptop, and Windows desktop.  The advantage to having the App on your devices is that with an Olive Tree Account (have you created one yet?) you can access your entire library from wherever you study the Bible. Obviously, I’m a big fan of the form and function of the Olive Tree Bible Study App.  What are your top features of The Bible Study App?  Where would you advise a new user to start? I would love your feedback.

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Celebrate Spurgeon’s 180th birthday

Posted by on 06/19/2014 in: ,

Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1894) converted to Christianity at the age of fifteen. By the time he was twenty-two, he was the most popular preacher of his time. He frequently spoke to crowds numbering over 10,000 in the days before sound systems or other electronic amplification.

Well known for his eloquent but familiar style, Charles Haddon Spurgeon won a large following in 19th Century Britain and his popularity among Christians of all denominations continues to this day. After his preaching began at age nineteen he quickly became very well-known throughout England and delivered nearly thirty-six hundred sermons. A prolific writer, many of Spurgeon’s works remain in print to this day.

Sometimes called the “prince of preachers” because of the richness of his utterance in interpreting the word of God, he ministered to thousands in London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle for decades. His popular daily devotional Morning and Evening has been a source of spiritual supply to countless believers. Always taking his subject directly from the Bible and always focusing on Christ’s glory and preeminence, Spurgeon puts himself aside and ushers his readers directly into the Lord’s presence to enjoy the comfort and encouragement only He can provide.

Not everything he said and did was widely accepted. Spurgeon was also ridiculed and criticized by preachers from across the Christian spectrum. But whether dealing with this criticism,  suffering from gout, caring for his invalid wife, battling depression, or carrying a burden of personal tragedy, Spurgeon refused to cave to the overwhelming adversity in his life.

To Celebrate Spurgeon’s 180th birthday we have the 37 Volume Olive Tree Charles Haddon Spurgeon Collection discounted this week.  This collection includes his Sermons, Autobiography, and several Devotionals and eBooks written by C.H. Spurgeon.  We also have the Parallel Commentary on the New Testament (Also by John Wesley and Matthew Henry) and the Parallel Classic Commentary on the Psalms (also by John Calvin and Matthew Henry).

Lastly, there are several more titles discounted to celebrate Charles Spurgeon and John Wesley’s birthdays this week.  You can find them here.

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Who was John Wesley?

Posted by on 06/17/2014 in: , ,

John Wesley (1703-1791). Engraved by J.Pofselwhite and published

John Wesley (June 17, 1703 – March 2, 1791) was a Christian theologian who, with his brother Charles Wesley and fellow cleric George Whitefield, is credited with the foundation of Methodism. He helped to form and organize small Christian groups that developed personal accountability, discipleship and religious instruction. He also appointed itinerant evangelists to travel and preach like he did and to care for the small groups of people. Under Wesley’s direction, Methodists became leaders in many social issues of the day, including prison reform and abolitionism.

Throughout his life, Wesley remained within the established Anglican church, insisting that the Methodist movement lay well within its tradition. He became widely respected, and by the end of his life, had been described as “the best loved man in England”.

Wesley died on Wednesday March 2, 1791, in his eighty-eighth year. As he lay dying, his friends gathered around him, Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, “Farewell, farewell.” At the end, summoning all his remaining strength, he cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us,” lifted his arms and raised his feeble voice again, repeating the words, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

To celebrate John Wesley’s birthday today, we highlight several titles.  John Wesley’s Teachings, Complete 4 Volume Set, the Wesley Study Bible NotesParallel Commentary on the New Testament (Also by Charles Spurgeon and Matthew Henry), and Renew My Heart.

Thanks to our partners at the Wesley Center, we also have several other John Wesley Writings available for The Bible Study App.

Browse more titles highlighted this week HERE.

Thanks to the Wesley Center Online and Wikipedia for the content of this post.

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Using the NA28 Apparatus as a Part of a Bible Study

Posted by on 05/29/2014 in: , , ,

NA28inabiblestudy

By Olive Tree Staff: Matthew Jonas

I teach a weekly Bible study, and recently we were reading through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  This has always been one of my favorite passages in the Scriptures and I was especially excited to get to the section on prayer and specifically to discuss the Lord’s Prayer.  I began by reading over the text of the passage itself.  I generally prepare my notes working from the Greek and Hebrew, but I then read from a number of different English translations in the study itself.  For this particular passage, I was reading from the ESV.  As soon as I had finished reading, someone pointed out that there was a line “missing” from the ESV at the end of the Lord’s Prayer.  She was using the NKJV, which adds the line “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen” at the end of verse 13.  This question led to a discussion about why that line is in some translations but not others.

Since I started working for Olive Tree, I’ve transitioned to using almost entirely electronic texts of the Bible.  I had my notes and my Bibles there on my tablet, so I was able to quickly look up this addition in the NA28 critical apparatus.

The first thing that I noticed was a T-shaped symbol at the end of verse 13 in the main text.  If you consult section three in the introduction (“THE CRITICAL APPARATUS”), it is explained that this symbol means that one or more words is inserted by the manuscripts listed.  If you are unfamiliar with the apparatus, I would recommend that you simply memorize the list of symbols used.  I believe that there are only eight of them, and they indicate what is going on.  For example, a T-shaped symbol is used to indicate an addition, an O-shaped symbol is used to indicate an omission, an S-shaped symbol with a dot in it is used to indicate a transposition, and so on.  It should be kept in mind as well that “additions” and “omissions” are relative to the main text of the NA28.  An addition is material that the editors of the NA28 chose not to include in the main text, but that some manuscripts contain.  An omission is material that the editors of the NA28 included, but that some manuscripts do not contain.

Clicking on the symbol in the text will open a popup.  If you wish to open this in the split window, tap on the “tear out” icon in the top corner.  The first addition listed is simply the word αμην, which is found only in a few manuscripts.  As far as the abbreviations for manuscripts go, a Fraktur letter P followed by a superscript number is used to indicate papyri, uppercase Latin and Greek letters (and the Hebrew Alef) are used to indicate the different uncial manuscripts, and numbers are used for the miniscules.  There are also additional special abbreviations for medieval cursive manuscripts, lectionaries, the different versions (e.g. the Vulgate, the Peshitta, etc.), and citations in the Church Fathers.  These abbreviations are explained in the introduction, and more complete information about each of the manuscripts is given in Appendix I in the end matter.  The star next to 288 indicates an original reading that was subsequently corrected.   “Vg” stands for Vulgate and the abbreviation “cl” indicates that this reading is found specific in the Clementine Vulgate.  The take away here is that there is not much manuscript evidence for adding just the word αμην to the end verse 13. (more…)

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Look Inside: The Complete Word Study Bible (CWSB)

Posted by on 05/22/2014 in: , , ,

By Olive Tree Employee: Joe Carter

I’ve been a big fan of the Complete Word Study Bible (CWSB) from AMG Publishing House on Olive Tree’s Bible Study app for some time now.

This one resource in print actually takes 4 volumes:

  • The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament
  • The Complete Word Study Old Testament
  • The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament
  • The Complete Word Study New Testament

cwsb plain

This is a massive original language study in one resource!

I love that you can search by the English, Greek, Hebrew, or by Strong’s Numbers! Even though I personally have limited knowledge about the underlying original languages, the CWSB allows me to read through the text in English, and quickly get in-depth info on any word there just by tapping on it!

The CWSB will give you information on the parts of speech for a word (and give you links that explain what those parts of speech mean if you don’t know – with examples no less!) – the Strong’s Number for that word, a VERY robust dictionary / exegetical discussion about the word in question as well as a link to a concordance at the end of nearly every entry showing you every verse in the Bible where a word is used.

Compare this resource to a standard “Strong’s” Bible and the amount of information available with the CWSB is staggering.

For example – the entry on αγαπαω:

In a Strong’s Bible you get this:

g0025. αγαπαω agapao;

perhaps from αγαν agan (much) (or compare h5689); to love (in a social or moral sense):— (be-) love (- ed). Compare 5368.

AV (142)- love 135, beloved 7;

of persons to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly of things to be well pleased, to be contented at or with a thing

By comparison, in the CWSB, the entry on αγαπαω goes on for over 2 pages when pasted into my word processor – with various usages of the word compared and contrasted between different passages of scripture.

Here’s a very small taste of the article on αγαπαω from the CWSB (comparing the different words for love used in Peter’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus in John 21 – FYI: Greek words in the text are transliterated into English for ease of use):

The third question of Jesus to Peter was different, “Do you love me [phileo, Are you my friend]?” (a. t.). Are your interests, now that you have seen Me risen from the dead, different than before the resurrection? Peter became sorrowful because he understood the deeper meaning of Jesus ‘question (John 21:17). His answer utilized two similar, but distinct verbs, oida, to know intuitively, and ginosko (G1097), to know experientially:”Lord, thou knowest, [oidas, intuitively] all things. Thou knowest [ginoskeis, know experientially] that I love thee [philo, that I am now your friend].”

CWSB_1

CWSB_2 CWSB_3

With this one resource you can get a backpack full of resources that you can carry around in your pocket – and instead of having to reference a number in one volume – then open another one and find that number, I can just tap on a word – then tap the links. Seamlessly moving between different ‘books’ in the collection.

As you can see, the Complete Word Study Bible (CWSB) is a great resource that helps you find original word meanings quickly and easily.

Watch the video below to see how the Complete Word Study Bible works on The Bible Study App.

You can find the Complete Word Study Bible (CWSB) on the Olive Tree Store here.

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Learning How to Study the Bible

Posted by on 05/01/2014 in: ,

ipad for teachingReading and studying the Bible are important disciplines for all Christians, but the concept of Bible study can be more elusive. In Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods, Warren starts out by saying, “I have discovered that most Christians sincerely want to study their Bibles on their own, but they just don’t know how.”

There are many classes, books and seminars full of theories and methods to teach you how to study the Bible. I took a class in seminary called Principles of Inductive Bible Study, and to this day I can hear the professor’s voice in my head. Every day the professor would ask, “What’s the first step in inductive Bible study?” and as a class we had to respond in unison, “Observation!” Then he would ask, “What question do we ask in the first step of Inductive Bible Study” and in unison we would again respond, “What does the text say?!” Often he would repeat these questions over and over until he felt we responded enthusiastically enough. He drilled into us what he believed to be the right steps for inductive Bible study, but his was just one out of a multitude of Bible study methods.

I’d recommend taking a look at How to Read the Bible Book by Book and How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart as good introductory Bible study resources. Learn To Study The Bible by Andy Deane, and Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul are also helpful for picking up good Bible study tools and habits. Study Bibles, like the NIV Study Bible Notes can provide notes, cross references and other insights into the text to help you in your Bible study. I have several study Bibles, dictionaries, commentaries and other resources that I consult when studying a particular passage of Scripture. However, don’t get too bogged down with study books and miss out on the truths you can glean from digging into the text on your own.

Here are some things I do when studying the Bible (don’t worry; I won’t make you memorize these!):

Context, Context, Context

I start by looking for the historical context: the author, style of writing, time period, audience and the historical background that surrounds the text. I then focus on the biblical context. I read the previous and subsequent chapters to get a full picture of the passage. Finally, I look for how the passage is applicable to my life.

Absorb It

I like to read the passage through three times. I write down repeated words or phrases, metaphors, similes, exclamations or anything that stands out. If anything reminds me of another passage I’ll look it up and compare. I like to pick out a couple of the repeated words and phrases for a quick word study, looking for other places those words are used in Scripture using my Strong’s Bible.

Retain It

I like to re-write the passage of Scripture in my own words, taking into account all of the work I’ve done up to this point. I then summarize my study in three sentences or less. I’m terrible at memorizing Scripture, but I’ve found that re-writing the passage in my own words helps me to recall the verse, even if it isn’t exact.

Do you have steps for Bible study that you follow? Is there a resource that you find especially helpful for your study? Let us know by leaving us a comment.

See more Resources to Help you Study The Bible HERE.

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National Day of Prayer

Posted by on 05/01/2014 in: ,

PrayerToday is the first Thursday in May, a day set aside by our country’s leaders as a national day of prayer. The Bible speaks of prayer often and encourages us with numerous examples of people who spent time in prayer. Examining the lives of those prayerful individuals in the Scriptures reveals that they are no different from you and me; they have their shortcomings and, in many cases, it is only through the Lord answering their prayers that they succeeded.

Learning to Pray from Moses

Moses’ example—that is, his overcoming his fear of public speaking and leadership—speaks volumes about prayer. Moses knew he wasn’t a capable leader of his people, so he spent much of his time in conversation with the Lord, often pleading for God to have mercy on the stubborn and rebellious Israelites. It was only through his conversations with the Lord that Moses was able to deliver Israel from Egypt.

Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ [God] said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’ (Ex. 3:11-12 ESV)

Moses continued to ask the Lord for guidance, and when it was clear Israel would need a new leader to take them in to the land, he appealed to God, saying:

‘Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.’ So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.’ (Num. 27:15-18 ESV)

God provided Joshua to be the new shepherd to the Israelites, a direct answer to Moses’ prayer. However, not all of Moses’ prayers were answered. In Deuteronomy 3:23-28,  Moses pleads with God to let him enter the Promised Land with the Israelites.

And I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’

But the Lord was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the Lord said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan.  But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.’ (ESV)

God’s answer to our prayers, like His answer to Moses’ here, may be “no,” but the truth still remains that God is willing and ready to listen to our prayers, but we must be equally willing to speak to Him and listen for His answer.

As a Christian, prayer is an important part of spiritual life.  It’s a time when we draw into the presence of our Lord and offer Him our praise, thanksgiving, supplication and repentance. We want to encourage you today and every day to spend time taking advantage of the privilege of speaking to our Lord personally and intimately through prayer. The writer of Hebrews invites us to do the same:

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16 ESV)

To help equip you for this day, all of our prayer titles are 25% off through May 5th!

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