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Who was ruling the universe when Jesus died?

Posted by on 08/30/2016 in: ,

The following excerpt is taken from the newly released book
No God but One:  Allah or Jesus? By Nabeel Qureshi

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In the summer of 2012, I spent eight weeks in Oakland, California, studying Arabic through Middlebury College. I had just graduated from Duke University, where I had focused on the Gospels and the Quran for my master’s degree. Even though my mother had taught me in my childhood how to recite Arabic, I could not use the language to communicate, so I knew that greater familiarity with Arabic would go a long way in my future graduate studies. I entered Middlebury just beyond the introductory level, which meant I would be prohibited from communicating in any language other than Arabic for the entire eight weeks. The program was so serious about this rule that we had to sign a contract the day we arrived. No English whatsoever, at any point, for two whole months. Not even during the evenings and weekends!

Until that time, I had not realized just how important language is for relieving stress. No jokes, no storytelling, very little fellowship—just a lot of hand gestures and listening to upperclassmen jabber away. It was a very trying time, but it forced us to quickly learn how to get by. Within a month, we were able to communicate with one another in what I am sure was horribly poor Arabic.

Thankfully, I had a friend near Oakland who was also a student of Arabic, and she regularly reached out to immigrants in the area. She asked me if I would be willing to meet a Muslim friend of hers from Saudi, and I gladly agreed. Anything to spend time with a friend and get away from the campus! That afternoon, I met a lively young student named Sahar. She told me about life as a woman in Saudi, including that the government required her to get her younger brother’s permission so that she could study in America. When I asked what would have happened if he had refused, she replied, “He knows better than to say no to me!”

Soon the conversation turned to religious matters. Sahar indicated that she was resolutely Muslim and was not considering conversion, but she had questions about what Christians believed. After asking many questions, she at last asked me one that seemed to have been the most problematic for her. “How can you believe Jesus is God if he was born through the birth canal of a woman and that he had to use the bathroom? Aren’t these things below God?”

This question is a very common one, but we should now be able to see why Muslims ask it: Allah does not enter into this world in Islam, whereas Yahweh has repeatedly done so. Allah remains behind a veil and sends messengers, whereas Yahweh is intimate and walks among us. When we remember that Yahweh is different from Allah, and that Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, the answers to many similar questions become readily apparent.

How Can God Die, And Who Was Ruling the Universe When Jesus Died?

These two questions were the first ones I asked David about Jesus’ deity when I was a Muslim, and they are the most common ones that Muslims ask me now. Since Islam does not have a concept of divine incarnation, these are understandable questions. Truly, they are ques- tions that Christians should ask themselves at some point, but they are not difficult to answer when we keep in mind what we have learned in this chapter.

 When someone asks me, “How can God die?” I ask for clarification, because the question can be asked from multiple angles. Almost always the questioner says something along the lines of, “God is immortal, so he cannot die.” To that, I respond with a question in turn. “I see what you mean, but let me ask you a question: When humans die, do our souls stop existing?” Of course, Muslims respond, “No, our souls do not die,” to which I respond, “So even when we die as humans, it is the body that dies. It is not that we stop existing altogether. So it was with Jesus: He was killed with respect to his earthly body, but God did not stop existing.”

Sometimes, though, by asking, “How can God die?” Muslims are essentially asking, “Who was ruling the universe?” There are many possible responses to this question, but the one I prefer is the simple one: the Father. This is why, if Muslims wish to engage in these kinds of questions, it is essential that Christians adequately explain the Trinity to them. The Father is not the Son, and the Father did not die on the cross.

IT IS UNJUST FOR GOD TO PUNISH JESUS FOR THE SINS OF MAN

This leads to another kind of question, one which even well-informed Muslims will ask. During the closing statements of my 2015 debate, Dr. Shabir Ally used the most caustic terms I have ever heard to challenge the gospel. He said that if the Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the world, then this was “cosmic child abuse.” What kind of a Father is God if he punishes his son for the sins of others?

By this point, we should be able to readily see the problem with this assessment: Christians do not believe that God is punishing a random victim. Jesus is God. The Judge is himself voluntarily paying on behalf of the criminal. Against Dr. Ally’s caricature, a more apropos illustration is shared by Brennan Manning in his book Ragamuffin Gospel.1 In 1935, Fiorello LaGuardia, the mayor of New York, presided over a court case in which an old woman had been caught stealing bread to feed her grandchildren. Although LaGuardia wanted to offer her mercy, the shopkeeper demanded justice. LaGuardia judged her guilty and imposed a fine of ten dollars, but in the same moment he took ten dollars from his own wallet and paid the fine on her behalf. Acknowledging the woman’s guilt, the judge himself paid the penalty and let her go free. This is a beautiful illustration of mercy and justice, but if we tweak one minor detail it will accord better with the gospel: if LaGuardia had not just been the judge but also the shopkeeper from whom the woman stole. When we sin, we sin against God. He has to judge us guilty, but then he pays for what we have done. It all makes sense when we remember the Christian view of Jesus: He is God.

NO ONE HAS SEEN GOD

Many Muslims have asked me how Jesus could be God if the Bible says “no one has ever seen God” (1 John 4:12). It makes sense that Muslims would ask this question, interpreting John’s epistle in light of tawhid, a monadic view of God. But John the disciple, the man through whom God authored this Bible verse, is also the author of the Gospel of John, and he interprets it for us in John 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only begotten God, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (my trans.). In other words, when the Bible says “no one has ever seen God,” it is referring to God the Father. Jesus, who is God and at the Father’s side, has made him known. That is why Jesus is able to say to his disciple Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Seeing Jesus is seeing God, tantamount to seeing the Father. So although no one has seen God the Father, people have seen God the Son. This means that every time someone in the Bible saw God, they were seeing the second person of the Trinity, Jesus. When we remember that Jesus is the second person of the triune God, this otherwise problematic verse is easy to understand.

 

THE MAJESTY OF A KING

Sahar’s question to me that summer afternoon in Oakland intuitively captured a sentiment that I think many Christians can learn from: God is King of the universe, unimaginably holy, and it is far beneath his majesty for him to be born on this filthy earth. So I affirmed her question, but then asked her one in turn. “Sahar, let’s imagine that you are on your way to a very important ceremony and are dressed in your finest clothes. You are about to arrive just on time, but then you see your daughter drowning in a pool of mud. What would you do? Let her drown and arrive looking dignified, or rescue her but arrive at the ceremony covered in mud?”

Her response was very matter of fact, “Of course, I would jump in the mud and save her.”

Nuancing the question more, I asked her, “Let’s say there were others with you. Would you send someone else to save her, or would you save her yourself?”

Considering this, Sahar responded, “If she is my daughter, how could I send anyone else? They would not care for her like I do. I would go myself, definitely.”

I paused for a short moment before continuing, “If you, being a human, love your daughter so much that you are willing to lay aside your dignity to save her, how much more can we expect God, if he is our perfectly loving Father, to lay aside his majesty to save us?” She considered this for a moment, and the conversation moved on. As the dinner ended, my friend returned me to my immersion Arabic program, where the idea of drowning was perhaps a bit too real for me.

During my last week in Oakland, as the program was coming to a fruitful and merciful end, I received another text message from my friend inviting me out to dinner, this time to meet a new Christian from a Muslim background. When I arrived, I was met by a beaming Sahar! The message of God’s selfless love had overpowered her, and she could no longer remain Muslim. A few days after our dinner, she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Now it was time to rejoice with her, share stories about our amazing God, and point the way forward for her discipleship.

Taken from Chapter 11 of  No God but One:  Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam & Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan. Used by permission of Zondervan.

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Eight Years on the App Store

Posted by on 08/01/2016 in:

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The Apple App store first launched in July of 2008 and our Bible App was available for iOS devices the following month. This month we celebrate 8 years of being in the App Store and look forward to continuing on for many more years to come. As a part of our celebrating we’ve discounted select titles that we hope will be a blessing to you and empower your continued growth and understanding of God’s word!

Go here to see them now!

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Summer Reading List

Posted by on 05/23/2016 in:

Woman Lying On Bedding On Green Grass With Ipad During Picknic I

One of our favorite things to do in the Summer is read a good book. We recently asked our employees to give us some of the top books on their reading list for this coming Summer and we thought we’d share those with you. If any of these look interesting to you we’ve put them and others on sale. Click the link at the bottom of this post to see more and let us know in the comments section what you’re reading.

LaRosa J.  

Kyle M.

Ian F.

David M. 

Ben S.

Joe C.

Andrew F.

See these and other specially priced eBooks!

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Look Inside: The NIV Greek-English Interlinear

Posted by on 04/11/2016 in: ,

Learning Greek can be a difficult task. It takes years of study and countless hours of practice before you reach the point of reading the Greek New Testament without the help of additional resources. Unless your aim is to be a New Testament scholar, most will not achieve that level of comfort with the Greek text. That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from using the Greek New Testament in your studies. Whether you’re someone who can read Greek proficiently or have only ever used a Strong’s Bible, Olive Tree’s NIV Greek-English Interlinear New Testament is here to meet your needs.

Here’s a brief look inside the NIV Greek-English New Testament Interlinear .

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Not only can The Bible Study App display the text in an Interlinear format, we’ve tagged the Greek word with the Greek Parsing and Strong’s Definition: Simply tap a word to get more details on that Greek word.

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We’ve also tagged the English Word:

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And the Strong’s Number:

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Searching for this Greek word in the text? No problem. Tap search and The Bible Study App will bring you a list of results for that Greek Word:

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You can also tap “lookup” and The Bible Study App will find dictionaries already downloaded to your device that contain more information on this Greek word:

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You can also search the Greek word itself:

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The NIV Greek-English Interlinear (based on the NA28) is an outstanding study tool. If you already have the NIV or the NA28  you can get an additional discount. Just make sure you are logged into your Olive Tree account at checkout.

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A Conversation with Kent Hughes

Posted by on 04/06/2016 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.

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I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Hughes and ask him to share how this series came about and to reflect on 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.

*Editors note: This interview originally took place when the Preaching the Word Commentary Series was only 29 Volumes. We have recently added 11 more volumes to this series bringing it to 40 Volumes and you can get the entire set on special right now. 

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Update to the Preaching the Word Commentary Series

Posted by on 03/30/2016 in: ,

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We’ve just added 11 new volumes to the The Preaching the Word Commentary Series!

This update includes 11 newly released volumes: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges & Ruth, 2 Samuel, Job, Psalms 1-41, Song Of Solomon, Matthew, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1-3 John.

The Preaching the Word Commentary Series offers unique insights into Biblical texts from the heart of a pastor. It is noted for its unqualified commitment to biblical authority and clear exposition of Scripture. Its emphasis on application and shepherding makes it a valuable asset for sermon and class preparation, as well as personal study.

Here are Six Reasons to use The Preaching the Word Commentary Series in Bible+.  (Screenshots are from an iPad Mini 4.  Click on Images for a larger view)

1. Resource Guide

Open your preferred Bible Translation in the main window and have the Resource Guide open in the Split Window.  You’ll see relevant “hits” from Preaching the Word in the split window.

Bible+ also keeps up with the scripture passage you’re reading in the main window with sync scrolling.  This means that as you move along in the Bible text, the commentary syncs to exactly where you are in your study.  No more flipping pages back and forth.  No more holding the commentary text open on your desk in one spot, reading through your Bible text, and having to go back and find your place in the commentary. You’ll save an enormous amount of time with this feature alone.

2. Search & Look Up Feature

Search The Preaching the Word Commentary Series for words or passages.  Take “Vine” as an example.  You can search the entire commentary  series for where “Vine” is mentioned in the commentary series.  You can also limit your search to the Old Testament, New Testament, biblical genre, or a specific book.

When your search hits are displayed, you can tap on the result to go directly to that passage. You can also copy the text to add to an existing note or add a note right from the search results.

3. Linked Reference Pop ups

One of my greatest frustrations in the hard copy world of biblical commentaries are the other biblical references within the commentary.  For example, when I’m reading in John 15 where Jesus is talking about the Vine and the Branches. In the Preaching the Word Commentary there’s a reference to Isaiah 5:7. With a hard copy, I have to open a different Bible and find each and every reference to read how the verse relates to what I am currently studying.  This is time consuming, slows down my study momentum, and requires me to keep all of my study materials out and open, spread out over a large desk space. With The Bible Study App, the scripture references are hyperlinked within the commentary text.  All I have to do is tap the scripture reference to read it instantly.

Related to this is footnotes/endnotes. The Preaching the Word Commentary Series has a lot of references to other materials.  In the past I would have to stop where I was in the reading, look at the footnote, then go back to where I was in the book.  This also was a huge time waster, and I would often lose my train of thought.  With Bible+ footnotes are linked.  Just tap on the footnote, read it, and go back to where you were without losing your place.

4. Copy/Paste into Notes

The Preaching the Word Commentaries are full of great content.  I often find myself reading a passage, going deeper with the commentary and finding that “perfect quote” that sums up what I was thinking but didn’t know how to express it in written form.  However, in the world of hard copy commentaries, I have to re-type it into my personal study notes.  With The Bible Study App, all I have to do is highlight the text that i want, copy it and paste it into my notes.  This feature saves me a ton of time, not to mention the wear and tear on my typing fingers!

 

5. Integrated Dictionary (iOS Extra)

In iPhone/iPad app, you also have an additional option.  Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  From here you get the options to Copy, Highlight, Note, Bookmark, Share, Define, Lookup and More.

If you tap “Define” you will get the integrated iOS dictionary pop-up.  This is extremely helpful when you run across a word in the commentaries or even the Bible text that you do not know.

6. Resource Guide on One Verse (iOS Extra)

An additional iOS option is looking up additional information on just one verse.  Tap on a verse number in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up. From here you get the options Copy, Highlight, add a Note, Save Passage, Share, Guide, and More..

If you tap the “Guide” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific verse. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.  You can even choose to open the The Preaching the Word Commentary in the main or split window.

This is helpful if you want to read through your Bible “full screen” and refer to the commentary when you want to see what it says about a particular verse.

As you can see, The Preaching the Word Commentaries within Bible+ give you the best content, while saving you valuable study time and tremendous effort.

Right now you can get the entire 41 Volume Preaching the Word Commentary set (normally 549.99) for $249.99!

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What is Apologetics?

Posted by on 03/15/2016 in: ,

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The simplicity of this definition, however, masks the complexity of the problem of defining apologetics. It turns out that a diversity of approaches has been taken in defining the meaning, scope, and purpose of apologetics.

Communication Breakdown

The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense (apologia). The classic example of an apologia was Socrates’s defense against the charge of preaching strange gods, a defense retold by his most famous pupil, Plato, in a dialogue called The Apology.
The word apologia appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the NT, and can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case. The idea of offering a reasoned defense of the faith is evident in Php 1:7,16; and especially 1 Pt 3:15, but no specific theory of apologetics is outlined in the NT.
In the second century this general word for “defense” began taking on a narrower sense to refer to a group of writers who defended the beliefs and practices of Christianity against various attacks. These men were known the apologists because of the titles of some of their treatises, but apparently not until 1794 was apologetics used to designate a specific theological discipline.

It has become customary to use the term apology to refer to a specific effort or work in defense of the faith. An apology might be a written document, a speech, or even a film. Apologists develop their defenses of the Christian faith in relation to scientific, historical, philosophical, ethical, religious, theological, or cultural issues.
We may distinguish four functions of apologetics, though not everyone agrees that apologetics involves all four. Such opinions notwithstanding, all four functions have historically been important in apologetics, and each has been championed by great Christian apologists throughout church history.

The first function may be called vindication or proof, and involves marshaling philosophical arguments as well as scientific and historical evidences for the Christian faith. The goal of this function is to develop a positive case for Christianity as a belief system that should be accepted. Philosophically, this means drawing out the logical implications of the Christian worldview so that they can be clearly seen and contrasted with alternate worldviews.

The second function is defense. This function is closest to the NT and early Christian use of the word apologia, defending Christianity against the plethora of attacks made against it in every generation by critics of varying belief systems. This function involves clarifying the Christian position in light of misunderstandings and misrepresentations; answering objections, criticisms, or questions from non-Christians; and in general clearing away any intellectual difficulties that nonbelievers claim stand in the way of their coming to faith.
The third function is refutation of opposing beliefs. This function focuses on answering the arguments non-Christians give in support of their own beliefs. Most apologists agree that refutation cannot stand alone, since proving a non-Christian religion or philosophy to be false does not prove that Christianity is true. Nevertheless, it is an essential function of apologetics.

The fourth function is persuasion. By this we do not mean merely convincing people that Christianity is true, but persuading them to apply its truth to their life. This function focuses on bringing non-Christians to the point of commitment. The apologist’s intent is not merely to win an intellectual argument, but to persuade people to commit their lives and eternal futures into the trust of the Son of God who died for them.

(The above article was written by Kenneth D. Boa and taken from the Apologetics Study Bible)

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Free Resource Friday

Posted by on 03/11/2016 in:

We love Bible study and know you do too!

27706_largeThanks to our friends at David C. Cook you can get 1 & 2 Thessalonians of The Wiersbe Bible Study Series for free to use in the Bible+ App today only!

The Wiersbe Bible Study Series delivers practical, in-depth guides to selected books of the Bible. Featuring insights from Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s Be Ready commentary, this eight-week study includes engaging questions and practical applications that will help you connect God’s Word with your life.

Download this title for free to use in your Bible study with the Bible+ App by going HERE.

Also make sure and check out some of our other great Bible study titles on special this week!

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