Category: Look Inside

What’s a Topical Bible?

Posted by on 10/25/2017 in: ,

When you don’t know a word, your first inclination is to find a dictionary definition of it. Although that information is helpful, you can learn so much more by hearing the word used in a sentence. When you experience the word being used, you learn how to use it for yourself. So, in this blog, I’ll tell you what a topical Bible is, but we won’t stop there. I’ll show you how to use one and how it can change the way you study the Bible.

WHAT’S A TOPICAL BIBLE?

Simply put, a topical Bible takes passages of Scripture and organizes them by topic. Our most recently acquired topical Bible looks like this in the app:

You can search through the resource like a dictionary, finding important Biblical themes, people, and places. When you pull one up, you’ll see a long list Scripture references. These are all linked. Just tap on it to open a pop-up window showing you the verse in context.

A TOPICAL BIBLE IN ACTION

I was asking myself this question not too long ago. I knew what a topical Bible was, and how I might use it… but I wondered how the authors of this resource envisioned others using it. Lucky enough, John MacArthur provides that information in the foreword of his MacArthur Topical Bible.

1. WHY USE A TOPICAL BIBLE?

When reading the Bible, we may first ask ourselves, “What does this mean to me?” But we should probably first ask, “What does the Bible mean by what it says?” MacArthur shares us the typical four steps for interpretation and which step he envisions his tool being used:

  • LITERAL: The Bible often speaks in literal terms. Let it speak for itself! What plain observations can you make?
  • HISTORICAL: The Bible talks about history. Learn about the historical context of the passage.
  • GRAMMATICAL: The Bible was written in a different language. Is there anything you might interpret differently after looking at a definition of a word in the original language?
  • SYNTHESIS: The Bible can interpret the Bible—it never contradicts itself! So, other passages of Scripture can help us understand the current passage we are reading… and this is where a topical Bible is handy!

When you’re doing your daily Bible reading, you can pick out the main themes and ideas you see presented. Then, look those up in a topical Bible. Then you can quickly read about the theme in other parts of the Bible by opening those pop-up windows we talked about earlier.

How does this help us? It keeps us from interpreting the Bible our way. Instead, we are looking to God’s Word for clarification.

1. HOW DO I USE A TOPICAL BIBLE?

We’ve already covered this a little bit, but I thought I could give you a real-life example!

Perhaps you’re reading Micah 6 and come across that well-know verse: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

God requires you to walk humbly. But what does “humbly” mean? Well, let’s see how God uses that word in other places in the Bible!

One example I pulled up is in Isaiah 57. This verse talks about God reviving or instilling joy in those who are low in spirit. Does being humble mean being sad or having poor self-image? Let’s check out another verse:

James 4 shows that when we are humble, God exalts us. What theme do we see between these passages?

  1. Micah 6: walk humbly with God
  2. Isaiah 57: when we are low, God will revive us
  3. James 4: when we are humble, God exalts us

Being humble appears to be more about our relationship with God. Do we try to exalt ourselves? Are we trying to please ourselves, puffing up with pride and acting like we have it all together? Are we doing things our own way?

Those actions and motives are the opposite of humility. You don’t have to be dreary and think poorly of yourself to be humble. But you do need to recognize your flaws and God’s perfection.

LEARN MORE

Start interpreting Scripture with Scripture in your Bible study time. We’ve got the MacArthur Topical Bible on sale right now, and you can learn more about it on our website.

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Learn to Preach Christ-Centered Sermons

Posted by on 10/16/2017 in: ,

There are SO many Biblical resources out there—but how do you know which ones will be helpful to you?  Especially if you’re a pastor, you don’t have a lot of time or money to waste!

The Christ-Centered Exposition Series makes its purpose clear just from the title. This commentary series is made for pastors. Pastors who want to preach Christ at the center of their message.

WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT OR BETTER?

But wouldn’t every Biblical resource mention Jesus where it’s applicable? Nope! The authors of this commentary noticed that there are two ways to study the Bible: with a magnifying glass or a wide-angle lens. For years, Bible study resources have been focused on the tiny details that can be uncovered in each verse.

There’s two issues with this for pastors:

  1. It takes a lot of time to turn those tiny details into a message that your audience can resonate with
  2. The tiny details address individual Bible stories—not the whole story of the Bible with Christ at the center

Pastors need resources to help them prepare heart-transformative messages, making Jesus known to their congregants—no matter what book of the Bible they are studying. David Platt, Tony Merida, and Daniel Akin have provided a solid, Biblical resource that accomplishes this by using up-close detail and big-picture thinking to make Jesus the hero of every chapter.

You, too, can preach with Christ at the center. Watch this 60-second video to learn more:

IS THIS COMMENTARY RELIABLE?

It’s important to research the authors/editors of any book you read! All three of these men have great credentials that make them perfect for writing Biblical resources for pastors.

DAVID PLATT

Platt is currently the president of the International Mission Board and the founder of Radical, a resource ministry that seeks to serve the missional church. He is well-known for his best-selling book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. He holds a Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

DANIEL AKIN

Akin is the president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. He is the author and editor of many popular books and Bible commentaries such as Theology for the Church and the New American Commentary on 1, 2, and 3 John. His gained his Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Texas at Arlington.

TONY MERIDA

Merida is the lead pastor at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina and is an Associate Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has written two books entitled Faithful Preaching and Orphanology. He earned a Ph.D. in preaching from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

CAN I USE THIS PRACTICALLY?

Yes! Inside our app, you’ll be able to pull up this commentary alongside any Bible translation of your choice, take notes, create an outline, and prepare your sermon. This series also comes with “Reflect & Discuss” sections, perfect for furthering personal devotions and small group studies.

We know many pastors who even use a tablet with our app open when they are preaching. You’ll have all the information you need at a tap of your finger.

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With this resource, you’ll be able to

  1. Quickly find the content and research you need to write a well-prepared sermon
  2. Preach Christ-centered, heart-transforming messages to your listeners
  3. Grow spiritually as the Holy Spirit leads

Visit our website to learn more about the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary Set (24 Vols.). Have questions about anything? Email support@olivetree.com. We’ll help you!

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Thoughts on Meekness

Posted by on 10/12/2017 in: ,

A LUTHERAN’S PERSPECTIVE

Have you ever heard of Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament? R.H.C. Lenski was a German-born American and conservative Lutheran. He lived from 1864 to 1936 and loved to write. For our blog today, I’ve pulled out Lenski’s commentary on Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (NKJV). I found a great reminder in his writing; While we wait for Jesus’ return, we ought to remain meek, trusting that God will cut down the wicked.

THOUGHTS FROM LENKSI

Blessed the meek; for just they shall inherit the earth. The best commentary is Ps. 37; note v. 11. “The meek” are the mild, gentle, patient. The word refers to an inward virtue exercised toward persons. When they are wronged or abused they show no resentment and do not threaten or avenge themselves. The opposite are the vehement, bitter, wild, and violent. Jesus is the greatest example of meekness.

The paradox is again startling, the fact that people of this kind “shall inherit the earth.” Jesus does not say, “the new earth,” yet many regard his word as a reference to the millennial earth or to Rev. 21:1. And Jesus says “shall inherit,” namely with Christ, the heir of all the earth. This lot is theirs in accordance with their Lord’s will and testament. Read Ps. 37: the wicked shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb-evildoers shall be cut off-yet a little while and the wicked shall not be; yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be-and so the story of the wicked goes on. There is not much inheriting of this earth according to the Psalm. But look at the ‘anavim (also in Isa. 61:1), “the meek.” Jesus is merely repeating Ps. 37:11, 22.

They are cautioned not to vex themselves when the wicked grow haughty and appear mighty and great. They may suffer, but the divine blessing constantly follows them also in this life and on this earth. It will not do to say that the temporal blessings promised to Israel in the old covenant are not to be regarded as being promised also to those living in the new covenant. The Christian Church has fared even better than Israel fared. The idea that in the Psalm “earth” signifies Canaan and thus the heavenly Canaan in Jesus’ beatitude, is specious; for Jesus indicates no difference of this kind. It will always be true (v. 16): “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked,” for his little has God’s blessing, and their much God’s curse.

Our meekness, however, often shines by its absence; our covetousness, pride, and other faults necessitate God’s discipline, who always follows higher aims that reach beyond temporalities. Chemnitz writes that God lets his children find a little nest on the house that is intended entirely for them. Luther agrees that this beatitude adds the promise of “temporal life and goods on earth.”

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Lenski’s commentary isn’t for everyone. He is very meticulous about his work with the Greek language! But if you are a lover of original languages, you should definitely look into this resource more. Just follow this link to our website.

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A Commentary You Can Apply to Your Life

Posted by on 10/08/2017 in: ,

There’s a reason students call seminary, “cemetery.” When I think of my Bible college experience, I remember the thick, dry textbooks. The information usually felt distant: arguments about authorship, textual criticism, definitions of the Greek and Hebrew. Although I learned a lot about the Bible (it was a priceless experience, believe me), I often finished my reading assignments wondering what any of it had to do with my personal life. This is why academic Bible study can feel like a graveyard; the Bible can quickly become only an ancient text to study, instead of the life-transforming book that it is.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF COMMENTARY

Not all commentaries neglect this important aspect. Recently, I was reading through Mark and thought it would be nice to have some extra input in my Bible study. I remembered that this week we have the NIV Application Commentary on sale, and I’ve never opened it before. So, I tried it out!

Every section of Scripture is explained in three ways: Original Meaning, Bridging Contexts, and Contemporary Significance. I’ll give you an example from my own study:

MARK 9:30-50

This passage is outlined in four sections: The Second Prediction of Jesus Suffering and Resurrection (9;30-37), The Unfamiliar Exorcist (9:38-40), Warning About Causing Others to Stumble (9:42-48), and Salt (9:49-50). For the sake of trying to keep this blog short, we’ll look at the Unfamiliar Exorcist.

John proudly announces to Jesus that they saw someone casting out demons in his name and they obstructed him. Their reason for intervening? “Because he was not one of us.” The complaint drips with irony. The disciples only recently bungled an exorcism, yet they do not hesitate to obstruct someone who is successful but who is not a member of their team. Jesus catches them by surprise when he does not commend them for their vigilance but instead reproves them: “Do not stop him” (9:39).

This response recalls Moses’ reply to Joshua. Joshua implored Israel’s leader to do something about unauthorized prophets, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” Moses answered, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (Num. 11:26-29). Are the disciples jealous for Jesus or for themselves? Do they want to corner the exorcism market, which would make them indispensable and revered, whereas Jesus wishes that all were exorcists casting out Satan in his name?

In the ancient world, exorcists used whatever name of deities they thought would work. Jesus’ explanation for condoning the exorcist’s success in Mark’s account is practical, not theological. He argues that they cannot use his name to do mighty works and speak ill of him later. Anyone who recognizes the power of Jesus’ name will not accuse him of working by Beelzebub, as the teachers of the law from Jerusalem had done (3:22).

There’s more information on this passage, but we’ll stop here for now. When reading this, I was thankful for the cross-reference to Moses. I don’t think I would have put that together on my own! And this also helped me to understand why the disciples said what they did about the exorcist. But how does this relate to who God is?

BUILDING CONTEXT

Here’s how the NIV Application Commentary builds context to this passage (again, this is trimmed!):

A deep sense of lowliness understands that God can use anyone and applauds others who are successful for God, even though they may not be on our team. Jesus’ reaction implies that disciples who go along with him must get along with others. He not only opens admission to the reign of God to all and accepts any who come in his name, he sanctions anyone using the power of his name. The barrier between insider and outsider in this episode becomes nebulous. Augustine said: “Many whom God has, the Church does not have; and many whom the Church has, God does not have.”

CONTEMPORARY SIGNIFICANCE

Now, here comes the punch to the heart. How are we, today, making the same mistakes as the disciples? In what ways are we, too, separating and putting ourselves over our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Jesus has consistently avoided self-acclamation, but his disciples are all too ready to exalt themselves over others. If Jesus directed the same question to contemporary followers that he asked his first disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” the answer will be no less embarrassing. Christians still jockey for prominence. The unbridled will to power still surfaces in local churches and in denominational politics, destroying fellowship and eviscerating Christian love.

Little has changed. Seminary students who begin their studies with high ideals frequently grow disillusioned by the political gamesmanship that infests churches and denominations. Some ministers become so disillusioned by such machinations that they leave the ministry; others quickly learn to play the game; still others correctly recognize that Jesus does not reject ambition, but they sublimate it by aspiring to become the greatest servant in the church rather than the greatest overlord.

LEARN MORE

The information I pulled from the NIV Application Commentary is only covering two verses of Scripture and I had to trim it down! This is truly an in-depth resource that will also help you apply the Bible to your personal life. If you’re wanting to improve your Bible study, or struggling to make Scripture applicable in your teaching, this is definitely a commentary set worth looking into.

Currently, the NIV Application Commentary is on sale, and you can learn more about it here.

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The John Phillips Commentary Series

Posted by on 10/07/2017 in: ,

1) WHO WAS JOHN PHILLIPS?

Phillips was born in South Wales on February 11, 1927. He didn’t stay put there, however. He served in the British Army in Palestine, then moved to Canada, married the love of his life, and then found himself in the United States. For years he worked at Moody Bible Institute, serving as the Assistant Director of their Evening Extension School. Additionally, he directed the Emmaus Correspondence School, which was, at the time, the largest school of its kind in the world.

With this Doctor of Ministry, Phillips not only taught and organized academic study of God’s Word, but he wrote more than 50 books about the Bible, including complete sets of New Testament Commentaries, the Exploring the Bible Series and his Introducing People of the Bible Series

This man was a dedicated, hard worker who strived to teach others about God and His Word.

2) WHAT IS HIS COMMENTARY LIKE?

Currently, Olive Tree offers Phillips commentary collection that contains 27 volumes: 19 New Testament volumes and 8 Old Testament volumes. You can see the entire list by visiting our website.

Phillips uses the KJV translation of the Bible for all of his work, and speaks from an evangelical framework. He provides many illustrations and quotes, often applying the Bible to everyday life.

But what’s the best part of this resource?

The OUTLINES! Phillips made sure to make extensive outlines before he wrote content for his commentary. Here’s an example:

Not only does he break down large pieces of Scripture into shorter, easier-to-understand sections, but he works out of this structure through the entire commentary set. You’ll find Phillips thoughts and comments recorded in conversational sentences that make you feel as if you’re studying the Bible alongside him.

LEARN MORE

Wondering how commentaries work in the app, what books of the Bible are included in this set, or just want more information? Visit the the John Phillips Commentary Set’s product page for all that and more.

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God’s Will: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Posted by on 09/25/2017 in: ,

Every time I read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, I’m deeply encouraged. Here, Paul gives his final instructions to the Church at Thessaloniki, calling them to love, act justly, and do the will of God. Not only that, but he tells them how they can accomplish all this. He says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

How will we become the kind of people that Paul depicts in this passage? God will work it out. He is faithful in sanctifying us completely.

THE WILL OF GOD

As I was looking to learn more about this passage, I was drawn to delve deeper into verses 16-18: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Ever wondered what God’s will is!? It’s this! That we rejoice, that we pray, and that we give thanks—and that we do all of these things all the time. Even though I was just reminded that God will complete this work in me, I felt overwhelmed. I’m certainly not doing those three things continuously! So, I looked to a resource for some help and encouragement.

This is from the New Bible Commentary:

“A series of brief, staccato commands indicates the basis for Christian living. They are quite general and would apply to any group of believers. Christians have grounds for joy in both their experience of salvation and their hope of what God will do in the future, but they need to express that joy; there is a right and proper place for the expression of joyful emotion.

Christians must also pray—here probably in the sense of making requests to God, since the next command is about the need to be thankful. Common to the three commands is the stress on fulfilling them all the time and in all circumstances; this does not mean, for example, that one prays uninterruptedly but that one prays regularly and frequently. Such a life is made possible, Paul adds, because God intends it to be so; he wants his people to be joyful, prayerful and thankful, and he makes it possible for them to be so.”

{Insert sigh of relief here} I think D.A. Carson probably has the right idea. God doesn’t expect us to rejoice, pray, and express gratitude uninterruptedly, but often. I can picture myself living a life where I rejoice often and a life where I’m thankful often. But I wonder, what exactly did a life of frequent prayer look like for Paul?

The New Bible Dictionary (which comes bundled with the New Bible Commentary) has a lot of content around prayer. It explains what prayer looked like in the Old Testament (and it’s different periods: patristic, pre-exile, exile, post exile… ect.), the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles. There’s a TON of information on Paul alone, but I took away this one tidbit:

“Prayer was thanksgiving, intercession, the realization of God’s presence (cf. 1 Thes. 1:2f.; Eph. 1:16ff.). He found that the Holy Spirit assisted him in prayer as he sought to know and do God’s will (Rom. 8:14, 26).”

To Paul, prayer was even the realization of God’s presence! Not that this is something I am perfect at, but it seems much more attainable than needing to always sit down and have a very deep conversation with God. Don’t get me wrong—that’s important, too! But prayer in the believer’s life is more than confession, thanksgiving, and intercession. It’s seeing God, recognizing Him in our circumstances, and acknowledging Him. All in all, when we realize God’s presence, it’ll be nearly impossible for us to act outside of God’s will. That should be a comfort.

LEARN MORE

Did you find this information just as helpful as I did? We offer the New Bible Commentary and New Bible Dictionary as a bundled product, usually for $79.98. But this week, we are able to drop the price to only $29.99. So, if you’re interested in learning more about these great resources, visit our website!

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Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines: Learning for a Lifetime

Posted by on 09/18/2017 in:

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 studying a new book of the Bible, you want to first get a feel for its layout. Wiersbe makes this easy by putting it front and center. It’s the first thing you see when you open the book to James. But, instead of finding it ourselves, we’ll use the Resource Guide to make our job easier. Scroll down to Outlines and tap on Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines to drill down to the outline for James.

With this outline we get a good feel for the structure of James’ epistle. We quickly find that this letter has five chapters that can be broken down into four main sections, with each having two or three major sub-points.

INTRODUCTIONS

We can follow the same steps to access the introductory material for James’ letter. This time, we drill down into the Introductions section of the Resource Guide to find our information. In the introduction for each book, Wiersbe covers key material such as: the author, the basic theme, an overview, and any other pertinent details. The introductions give you just enough to get you familiar with the book without giving you anything you don’t need.

SUMMARIES

Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines is functionally a mini commentary on the Bible. The commentary comes in the form of short summaries for both chapters and key passages. Again, we can access this information through the Resource Guide by navigating to the Commentaries section and tapping into it. Once inside, you are presented with a compact summary of the entire chapter. If you’re looking to get a broad overview of the entire Bible, I’d stop here the first time through. Then, you can read the section summaries on your next time around to get more depth. Or, dive in and soak it all up!

PERFECT FOR EVERYONE

The great thing about Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines is that it’s truly for everyone. The title is a bit deceiving because you get a lot more than just outlines. If you add this resource to your Olive Tree library you’ll walk away with a solid overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Warren Wiersbe taught this to his students over the course of 7 years, but you get to glean from it for a lifetime! Add it to your Olive Tree library today!

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Why Does God Allow Trials?

Posted by on 09/16/2017 in: ,

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.”

Have you ever wondered why God allows us to experience trials? Here are eight purposes for trials in the life of the Christian:

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 CALL US TO ETERNAL AND HEAVENLY HOPE

The more we experience trials and the longer they become, they cause us to yearn for heaven. Paul understood this truth well in his own life & ministry (Rom. 8:18-25; Phil. 1:23-24).

5. TO REVEAL WHAT WE REALLY LOVE

God commands us to love him first and foremost. Trials come to both prove and reveal whether this is true. Abraham was tested when he was asked to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22). Jesus uses hyperbole to express the devotion we’re to have for God (Luke 14:26).

6. TO TEACH US TO VALUE GOD’S BLESSINGS

Trials are difficult and often result in loss. These losses help us see the blessings that God does provide for his children. Truly our greatest blessings are spiritual. The heroes in Hebrews 11 knew this well as they looked to the goodness of God’s gifts.

7. TO DEVELOP ENDURING STRENGTH FOR GREATER USEFULNESS

Faith is like a muscle, unless it is put to use and exercised, it will not get stronger. Trials strengthen our faith so that it is strong at the times when we need it most. By faith God’s children have endured trials & done great deeds (Heb. 11:33-34). Paul also understood that trials are what made his faith strong (2 Cor. 12:10).

8. TO ENABLE US TO BETTER HELP OTHERS IN THEIR TRIALS

Sometimes the trials we experience are not for us, but for others. God allows trials to happen to us so we can help others through their own trials and seasons of difficulty. Peter experienced trials, which he later used to encourage other believers (Luke 22:31-32). Even Jesus suffered so that he could intercede on our behalf (Heb. 2:18).

LEARN MORE

This content is adapted from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Learn more by visiting our website, where this entire set is discounted 50%.

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The Evil of Favoritism

Posted by on 09/15/2017 in: ,

JAMES 2:1-4

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”

GOD DOES NOT SHOW PARTIALITY

When we think of the attributes of God, His divine nature and characteristics, we usually think of such things as His holiness and righteousness and His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. We think of His immutability (changelessness), His eternality, His sovereignty, His justice, and His perfect grace, love, mercy, faithfulness, and goodness. But another attribute of God that is not thought or spoken of so often is His impartiality. Yet that is a serious and recurring theme throughout Scripture. God is absolutely impartial in His dealings with people. And in that way, as with His other attributes, He is unlike us.

HUMANS ARE JUDGEMENTAL

Human beings, even Christians, are not naturally inclined to be impartial. We tend to put people in pigeonholes, in predetermined, stratified categories, ranking them by their looks, their clothes, their race or ethnicity, their social status, their personality, their intelligence, their wealth and power, by the kind of car they drive, and by the type of house and neighborhood they live in.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

But all of those things are non-issues with God, of no significance or meaning to Him whatever. Moses declared,” For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God.” He then added that this great and awesome God, who has the right to be however He wants to be,” does not show partiality nor take a bribe” (Deut. 10:17), and He expects his people to reflect that same impartiality.

The New Testament is equally clear about the sin of partiality. To a crowd of unbelievers in the temple, Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Paul specifically emphasizes that God is impartial in regard to social status, occupation, or a person’s being free or enslaved. Like their Lord, believers should treat the lowest-paid laborer with the same basic respect as they do a bank president or the socially elite, and treat those who may work under them with the same impartiality and dignity as they give their boss.

WE SHOULD NOT SHOW PARTIALITY

If we do not treat those in need the way God treats them, then His love is not in us (1 John). Later in that letter the apostle writes,” In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (4:10-12). “If someone says, ‘I love God, ‘ and hates his brother,” John goes on to say,” he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (vv. 20-21).

LEARN MORE

The content of this blog comes from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Learn more by visiting our website, where this entire set is discounted 50%.

QUESTION: When is a time that you were shown impartiality and inclusion when you expected to be judged and neglected? How did that shape you and teach you about God?

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Look Inside: KJV Word Study Bible

Posted by on 09/15/2017 in:

The newly released KJV Word Study Bible is a fantastic resource for your personal Bible study. It includes the King James Version (KJV) Bible text with Strong’s tagging KJV paragraph-style text, book introductions, word studies, Indexes and a concordance. In this blog we’ll show you how this great resource works when used in the Olive Tree Bible App.

Strong’s Tagging

The KJV Word Study Bible includes Strong’s tagging. This means you can tap an English word and get the Greek or Hebrew word that the English word is translated from. Strong’s tagged words are indicated by a slight blue/grey shading. The Strong’s popup will then give you a dictionary definition of that word and the option to lookup more information on the word itself (very useful if you have more in depth dictionaries in your library) or search on the Strong’s number to see where that word appears throughout the Bible.

Study Bible Notes

The study Bible notes in the KJV Word Study Bible are best used in the split window of the Bible App. You can access them in the Resource Guide under ‘Commentaries’ or from your Library in the split window. They will stay in sync as you are reading and provide you with easy access to word study articles.

Hyperlinked words are in green and allow you to quickly jump to other study sections.

Verses open in a convenient popup.

English Word Index

Scripture Passage Index

While the most common word studies are shown front and center there are often word study articles available on more than one word per verse. If that is the case you’ll find links for those additional word studies that you can easily tap for further reading.

Have a question we didn’t cover here? Ask it in the comments below.

Want to add the KJV Word Study Bible to your account? Go here!

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