Rabbit Trails to the Cross

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trailWhile the gospel ought to always be at the forefront of our minds, I do not deny there being something special about this time of year. The Passion Week presents us with the opportunity to look closely at the cross of Christ and to share salvation’s good news with loved ones. Hearing about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is brand new for many people. But, how does the person who’s been a Christian for years or decades keep the gospel fresh? This is one of my challenges as a Christian. So, what do I do? I look outside the gospel narratives and look at the rest of Scripture.

Since all the Bible is about Jesus, we should see things that either point forward (Old Testament) or back (Acts & beyond) to the work of Christ. Today I’d like to walk you through a quick time of study I had this morning reading a seemingly random Bible passage and how that pointed me back to the cross and helped me meditate on Christ this Passion Week.

My morning started with a reading in the first couple of chapters in 1 Timothy. As I read, one verse stood out more than others:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)

Yes, Jesus came to save sinners, and Paul assures us that this statement is trustworthy and worthy of acceptance. Like Paul, I can identify with these words and I lean on the truthfulness of why Christ came. After meditating on that verse and its surrounding context, the ESV cross references pointed me to Romans 4:25, which is where my study became fun.

23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. (Romans 4:23-25)

In this context Paul is talking about Abraham and how he was justified through faith. Paul makes it clear that Abraham was declared righteous before his circumcision or any other act he performed, such as obeying the call to sacrifice Isaac. Paul then brings this forward and applies it to Christians and our justification. He shows how justification is applied through our faith in Jesus’ atoning work. The cross is now clearly in view and how it benefits my life.

At this point, a few Study Bibles provide further edification as they elaborate on the Romans passage.

4:25 Both the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are necessary for forgiveness of sins and justification. raised for our justification. When God the Father raised Christ from the dead, it was a demonstration that he accepted Christ’s suffering and death as full payment for sin, and that the Father’s favor, no longer his wrath against sin, was directed toward Christ, and through Christ toward those who believe. Since Paul sees Christians as united with Christ in his death and resurrection (6:6, 8–11; Eph. 2:6; Col. 2:12; 3:1), God’s approval of Christ at the resurrection results in God’s approval also of all who are united to Christ, and in this way results in their “justification.” (ESV Study Bible)

 

4:25 The proof of justification by faith alone in Abraham’s case leads Paul back to the foundation of justification in the work of Christ (3:24-26). Christ’s death and resurrection are two indivisible but distinguishable aspects of His one saving work. In His death, Christ bore the legal penalty for our guilt. In raising Jesus from the dead, the Father vindicated Jesus, nullifying the sentence of death, and declaring Him to be righteous. This vindication grounds our justification through our union with Christ. (Reformation Study Bible)

Both of these notes drive home great points concerning the correlation between Jesus’ work on the cross and our justification. Without his death our sins are not forgiven; and, without his resurrection there is no proof that God accepted his sacrifice. Like Abraham, we only receive this through faith. In response to reading these notes all I could think was, “Ah, thank you Lord for the cross! Without your death and resurrection I am hopeless!”

But, there was one more note in the HCSB Study Bible that cross referenced one last passage in Acts, which led me to a moment of true thankfulness and hope.

4:25. Jesus was delivered up for our trespasses as promised in Is 52:13–53:12. Who delivered up Jesus? Was it Judas? Pilate? The Jewish Sanhedrin? Satan? Certainly all these were causal agents in the crucifixion of Christ, but ultimately it was the sovereign God who brought it to pass in order to fulfill His plan of redemption (Ac 4:27- 28). The Father delivered Jesus up for our trespasses, and raised Him so that His righteous Servant would justify many people (Is 53:11). (HCSB Study Bible)

Jesus’ death on the cross was not an accident. God planned it long ago and had a hand in all of it. After being released from prison, Peter and John prayed to God and recognized that he was at work the entire time, even working through wicked men. Personally, realizing the bigger picture of the Passion Week is a huge comfort to me. Yes, wicked men sentenced Jesus to death, but it was all part of God’s plan. Jesus died for our sins. He rose again, showing God’s acceptance of his sacrifice. We are justified because of our faith in the work of the cross. But, God had his plan in place before Adam even sinned. What an awesome God we serve!

I love how God can work and point us to the gospel as we read his Word. It may be Passion Week, but that’s not where I’m reading; yet, God still points me to his Son’s work on the cross and my soul is lifted because of it!

Introducing the Biblical Imagination Series

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For years Michael Card’s music has imaginatively explored the narrative power of the Word of God. Now in the Biblical Imagination Series, Card invites readers to enter into Scripture as he has learned to do, at the level of the informed imagination.

These volumes will help you discover the biblical text for yourself, ask your own questions and uncover deeper truths. Taking seriously the individual life and voice of each biblical writer, the Biblical Imagination Series will help you reintegrate your mind with your heart to recapture your imagination with the beauty and power of Christ.

Right now the Biblical Imagination Series 4 Volume set is only $24.99 for a limited time!

Who was St. Patrick really?

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He didn’t drive out snakes, drink green beer, or pinch people. In fact, he wasn’t even Irish! For the truth about St. Patrick watch the video below from our friends at Rose Publishing.

For great titles on church history and more go here!

 

Look Inside: Reformation Study Bible Notes (2015)

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Just released for Olive Tree’s Bible Study App is the new edition of the Reformation Study Bible Notes. We are excited to be able to partner with Ligonier Ministries to be one of the first to offer this outstanding Bible study resource. The Reformation Study Bible Notes (2015) have been thoroughly revised and carefully crafted under the editorial leadership of R.C. Sproul. Over 1.1 million words of new, expanded, or revised commentary from 75 distinguished theologians, pastors, and scholars from around the world contribute to make this an unparalleled discipleship resource. Includes new award-winning maps, topical articles, concordance, and historical creeds, confessions, and catechisms, and more.  It is a fantastic resource and we want to give you a look inside this new edition of the Reformation Study Bible Notes.

In the screenshot below (taken from an iPad 2) I have my Bible text open in the main window to Acts 19. As I scroll through the Resource Guide in the Split Window I can see all of my enhanced resources that have an entry pertaining to the current text that I’m reading. I notice that the Reformation Study Bible Notes has entries for commentaries, maps, outlines, and introductions. The numbers indicate how many entries are available for each enhanced resource.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes - in the resource guide – shows six entries under the Commentary section for Acts 19:1-10. When I click on the the Reformation Study Bible Notes it then shows me a preview of those six entries.

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I can then click on any of those previews to read the full commentary. As I read on in the text, those entries will stay in sync with my passage no matter what translation I have open in the main window.  Any Scripture reference I see becomes a hyperlink that I can tap and read without having to leave my current Bible passage.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes includes a concordance that can be found under People, Places, Topics in The Bible Study App’s Resource Guide when relevant content from your Bible text is in the Main Window.  In this case, “Apollos” shows up in the passage I’m reading.  when I tap “Apollos” under the People section, I see the concordance reference for “Apollos” and read that reference.

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Since the concordance from the Reformation Study Bible Notes is linked, I can also use The Bible Study App’s Lookup feature in the Main Window for easy and quick access. Tap and hold a word, then tap “Lookup”. The reference will show up and you can tap then read the article like you would in the Resource Guide option above.

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Maps in the The Reformation Study Bible Notes can be found in two places in the Resource Guide.  First, under “Place” tap a location you are interested in.  I chose Ephesus in this case. After tapping Ephesus, all of the maps in the The Reformation Study Bible Notes tagged with that location will appear. You can then pinch and zoom the map for a larger view.

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The second place is under the “Maps” Section.  Tap the one you want, Tap the “two arrows” button, pinch and zoom for a larger view.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes also includes many theological articles also linked to the Bible text you are reading.  Under Topics, tap a subject you want to learn more about. I choose “Baptism” in this case.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes also gives you book outlines, and book introductions. These are easy to access from the Resource Guide which pulls in entries based on where you’re reading in the main window.

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The Reformation Study Bible Notes also includes 10 historical creeds, confessions, and catechisms.  To access them, open The Reformation Study Bible Notes in the Main Window > Tap Go To > Tap the “3 dots/3 lines” icon to Change from Grid View to List View > Tap Back Matter > Tap Creeds, Confessions, and Catechisms > Tap the Creed or Confession you want to read.

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You can also access all of enhanced content by navigating to the “end matter” in this way.

As you can see, the Reformation Study Bible Notes contain a ton of content that will help you go deeper in your Bible study.

 

Three Ways to use the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity

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encylopedia of ancientWe are thrilled to announce that Olive Tree is the first to release the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in digital format!

This three-volume encyclopedia offers unparalleled, comprehensive coverage of the people, places and ideas of ancient Christianity. With Olive Tree’s Bible Study App you can access eight Centuries of the Christian church in just three taps!

Here’s three ways to use the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in Olive Tree’s Bible Study App! (Screenshots are taken from an iPad 2 – click for a larger view)

The first way is through the Split Window and Resource Guide.  Open your favorite Bible translation in the main window and the Resource Guide in the Split Window.  As you read through your Bible text, the Resource Guide searches through all the downloaded resources in your library to find related Bible study content.

You’ll notice that the Resource Guide pulls related content from all of your downloaded resources.  If you scroll down the Resource Guide results, you will see the section headings “People,” “Places,” and “Topics.”  These headings give you the results of articles based on your downloaded resources.
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Tap or click on the person/place/topic you want to learn more about. I chose “Anointing” in this example.  The Bible Study App then brings you results from within the resources you have on your device.  This is where you will find the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity within the Resource Guide.

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You’ll notice that the resource has the words “Article on Anointing” underneath the book cover.  Tap/Click on the book cover and The Bible Study App will take you directly to the article within the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity. As you are reading the article, any Scripture references become hyperlinks that you can tap/click to view as a pop-out window:

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The second way you can utilize the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity is as a traditional dictionary in The Bible Study App.  Open the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity in the main window, and then just tap the “Go-To” button and scroll through this awesome resource as you would a hard-copy dictionary.  For faster results, tap “Browse Dictionary” and enter the term you are looking for in the search bar.

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The third way is to use the Bible Study App’s Lookup Feature. Tap and hold a word in the Bible text and an option menu bar will pop up.  If you tap the “Lookup” button you’ll get “hits” from your resources on just that specific word. From here you can follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option above.

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If you’re on an iOS device, you can also tap the verse number and a menu bar will appear.  Tap “Guide” and you will get hits from your resources on that specific verse.  Then just follow the same steps as you would in the resource guide option.

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The Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity covers eight centuries of the Christian church and comprises 3,220 entries by a team of 266 scholars.  Using the Bible Study App’s lookup feature makes the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity great companion tool for many other resources.

Use the lookup feature when you’ve got the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture in the split window:

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Taking a Church History course and want to learn more about the Council of Nicaea?

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Reading a biography of St. Augustine and want to know more about the city of Carthage?

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Any resource you have in The Bible Study can utilize the content in the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity! As you can see, the Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity is an extremely helpful resource for studying the Bible and ancient Christianity.  Right now you can get this amazing resource for only $149.99.  That’s $150 off the regular price!  Hurry because this is a limited time offer!

What is the Resource Guide?

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What is the Resource Guide? As you read along in your Bible in the main window of The Bible Study App, the Resource Guide in the split window follows along, looking in your library for any Bible study 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.

Your Very Own Research Assistant Think of the Resource Guide as your own personal research assistant. If you were reading about Paul’s first missionary journey in Acts 13, your research assistant has a map of Paul’s journey, cross references to passages in Paul’s letters written to the churches he founded, charts that give an overview of Paul’s life, and all sorts of other resources. You didn’t have to do anything, in fact, you didn’t even have to ask. All of the work was already done by your personal research assistant, the Resource Guide.

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Completely Customizable The configuration of the Resource Guide is also customizable. To access the options for customizing the Resource Guide tap on the double arrow button (double gear for Android) in the upper right corner. You will then see the various options for customizing the different sections in the Resource Guide.

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Here’s a short video on the basics of the Resource Guide:

What types of resources work with the Resource Guide? The Resource Guide is ‘verse driven’ which means that the Bible passage that is open in the main window directs what references appear in the Resource Guide. Not every resource is verse driven but some examples of verse driven resources are:

  • Articles on people, places, and other topics
  • Study Bible notes
  • Commentaries
  • Outlines
  • Dictionaries
  • Introductions to books of the Bible
  • Cross references
  • Maps
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