Monthly Archives: January 2017

Interpretation – When are the “last days?”

One challenge we face in the interpretation of the Bible is that sometimes we may jump to certain ideas about what the Bible is saying based on some preconceived ideas about what things mean.

Think of the phrase, “the last days.”

What comes into your mind?

For many, the thought is “the last days” equals “the end of the world just before Jesus returns.” As such some would say “the last days” is still in the future. Or some might say, “the last days” are just beginning now.

What does “the last days” mean in Acts 2:17-21?

‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ (NASB)

The first rule of Bible interpretation is: context, context, context.

And so what is the context of this passage?

Take a look at the material just before it in Acts 2:1-16.

Briefly, the context is the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit filled the gathered faithful and they began to speak of the mighty deeds of God in various languages. Some of the observers were amazed at this event while others thought those speaking were drunk with wine. Peter responded in Acts 2:14-21 saying the people aren’t drunk as it is 9AM in the morning and instead what is happening is a fulfillment of a prophecy in Joel.

And so when is “the last days” in this passage?

It was actually the very moment of Pentecost nearly 2000 years ago!

Thus, in some Bible verses, the last days are not the end of the world just before Jesus returns but rather the era of time marked by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which happened at Pentecost and continues to this day for any who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus the Christ for salvation.

While we are at it, go to Hebrews 1:1:-2.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (NASB)

Here the last days are the times marked by God speaking through His Son.

Thus, perhaps, in some passages, “the last days” is the time in salvation history inaugurated by the first coming of Jesus?

What do you think about this possibility?

kingdom

First Look – Ephesians 2:1-10

Studying the Bible can be intimidating. But it is worthwhile to dig in and allow God to transform us through His Word!

We plan to make a series of short (~ 5 minutes) videos with Bible passages where some guidelines will be shared that will hopefully help you get started in understanding the Bible.

In this episode, we will look at Ephesians 2:1-10 and highlight how asking the question of “Who?” can help us get started in studying this portion of the Scriptures.

Below is the text as discussed in the video for those who prefer to do their learning via reading rather than watching.

Ephesians 2:1-10
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Now, take a look at WHO is the key subject of each section of the Bible text …

In vv. 1-3
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

In vv. 4-7
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

In vv. 8-10
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

In summary:
Ephesians 2:1-3
Our situation before we are saved
Ephesians 2:4-7
What God has done to offer salvation to us
Ephesians 2:8-10
Our new reality: (1) Saved by grace (2) Saved to do good works

What evangelical protestants could think of Mary?

As Protestant Evangelicals, we view the emphasis in Catholicism on Mary as somewhat strange. However, might there be some lessons we could gain from a closer look at Mary?

Check out this podcast over at Christianity Today.

In the discussion, what comes across is how Mary is an incredible model of discipleship.

Check and out and see what you think?

Is Anything Worth Dying For?

Encounters of Faith in Asia: Past, Present and Future

Tomorrow across the USA, and perhaps globally, the movie Silence will open in broad release. I am on my way to Asia as I write this post, and hoping to see it soon. In case you missed my two previous posts on this movie, based on a book by Japanese novelist Shusako Endo, I’m expecting it to be a powerful statement on not only what is worth dying for, but what is worth living for. (See my posts Silence: The End of Triumphalism and Silence Part 2: The ‘Hidden’ Japanese Christians ) It is a Martin Scorsese directed film which took 20 years to bring to the screen. Scorsese was raised in a Catholic home and inspired by the life of Father John Principe, who introduced him and his friends to new movies but interpreted them from a moral perspective. Scorsese writes “I thought if I could become a priest…

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Trying to Describe Christ: One Person

Talbot Seminary Biola University Professor Fred Sanders discusses that Christ is One Person with Two Natures.

HYPOSTATIC UNION.

What do you think?

It certainly isn’t easy to get our minds around it but this seems to be the best description of what the Scriptures tell us.