September, 2013 Archive

This is me on the inside.

This is me on the inside.

There are a lot of things that make me cringe. My now-wife once went to Japan and told me about horse sushi – that makes me cringe. When my dog poops on the carpet – that makes me cringe. People talking on their cell phones in public bathrooms (seriously, why are you doing that?) – that makes me cringe. Traffic that appears out of nowhere for no reason – you guessed it, that makes me cringe.

However, there might be nothing that makes me cringe more than “Christianese” lingo that goes around the church. I’ll admit it, I’m a curmudgeon. There is something inside of me that feels like rusty gears grinding together whenever I hear it.

Below I’ve picked five Christianese phrases that really make my ears cry tears of sadness. We’re all guilty of it, so lets confess this sin (it must be a sin to be this painful, right?) together and put it to rest.

1) Guard your heart!

Seriously? What does this even mean!? Guard my heart against what? You say it like it’s the title of a Danielle Steel novel.

2) PTL!

Every time I see this on my computer screen, an angel loses its wings. So much cheese.

PTL! With all the cheese!

PTL! With all the cheese!

3) My Quiet Time

Eastern religions have quiet time. We have Bible time.

4) I prayed about it and…

Now you have free license to do whatever your heart tells you!

5) Let’s raise our hands in worship!

Didn’t you hear me the first time? I’m a curmudgeon. I don’t want to.

SolaWednesdayFinal

1) “You Can’t Use the Bible to Prove the Bible” . . . And Other Stupid Statements

In the end, the story of Christ has plenty of independent documentation, all of must prove or evidence the rest. So in this sense, we must use the Bible to prove the Bible or else we are not being historians, but religious zealots, fighting to keep hold of our unbelief through stupid statements.

2) Is It Good News That Cohabitation Rates Are Stalling?

“Another possibility is that cohabitation has become so common and socially accepted that it now is following the same pattern as marriage,” Shah writes. Those who wish to avoid commitments are now “shying away from cohabitation the same way they might avoid marriage.”

3) Why Men Have Stopped Singing in Church

And so the church has returned to the 14th century. Worshippers stand mute as professional-caliber musicians play complex instruments, sung in an obscure language. Martin Luther is turning over in his grave.

4) 10-Year-Old Banned From Writing About God By Memphis Teacher, Told to Remove Paper From School Property

A Memphis-area mother is angry with her daughter’s elementary school after a teacher told her 10-year-old she could not have God as the subject of her class assignment to write about her idol.

5) Challies Best Commentary Series

Series Introduction: I live in a small house. I work in a small office in a small church. For those reasons and others I will never have a huge library. When I add a book I almost always remove a book, a practice that allows me to focus on quality over quantity. Over the past couple of years I have focused on building a collection of commentaries that will include only the best volumes on each book of the Bible.

teleo

I’ve recently had the pleasure of listening to Jimmy Needham’s newest album, The Hymn Sessions, Vol. 1. This album is ridiculously off the charts good, and if you haven’t ever listened to Jimmy then you are really missing out.

His latest album is his own “spin” on classic hymns, such as “Come thou Fount”, “Holy, Holy, Holy” and a new one for me called “It is Finished.” This last song might be an original track since I can’t find any precedent of it, which all-the-more speaks to Needham’s brilliance and gift.

The opening line to this song has given me much pause over the last week, and for multiple reasons. It goes like this:

It is finished, it is finished

“Tetelestai.”

The beauty of the double-meaning phrase!

Most of you are probably thinking that the second line looks like jibberish. Rightly-so. It took me a few listens to understand what was going on, but when it hit me it was right between the eyes: it’s the words of Jesus from the Gospel of John written in Greek! This may not seem like a huge deal to some, but I’m hoping with a brief explanation this expression will come to mean much more to you than just the words “It is finished.”

This particular passage comes from John 19:30, and they are the last words spoken by Christ before dying on the cross. We often look back to these words of Christ and come to the conclusion that Jesus was acknowledging that after all of his suffering, his purpose was complete. The once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins had been completed. This is absolutely accurate. But with a little bit of exegetical analysis, this phrase will become even more beautiful to our ears than it already is.

The word “tetelestai” comes from the Greek τελέω. The simple translation of this word is “to finish” – hence our translation. However, this word carries some extra weight. Properly understood in its religious context, “bears the overtone of fulfilling one’s religious obligations” (Carson, PNTC). This is where we get our understanding that Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice for sin was accomplished and carried out on Calvary. Jesus came to Earth with a mission – to purchase us with his blood. And it was certainly finished.

But I want us to dig a little bit deeper. I want to take a look at the usage of the word in particular. In the Koine Greek language, which is the language of the New Testament, verbs could carry one of any number of tenses to communicate varying nuances. There is a particular tense in the Greek that denotes a finite, one time action. It has happened once, and that is it – there are no lasting consequences.

However, this tense is not the tense John uses to communicate his point in his gospel. He could’ve used the other tense, which might be what we would actually expect for a historical event. Instead, he uses a tense that communicates an action that occurred in the past with present and ongoing consequence.

What does this mean for us? This means that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was, and continues to be into this day, and will always be, accomplished. Done. There is nothing we can add, and there is nothing we can take away from Jesus’ sacrifice. There is nothing more for us to do! He has done it all.

Perhaps this idea could best be communicated by the lyrics of the second-half of verse 1:

He has ceased from His labor

And so have I!

Now Resting only in His grace

What grace! Thanks for the opportunity to reflect, Jimmy.

SolaWednesdayFinal

Well, I’m married.

Since I already posted one “Sola Wednesday” listing my top 5 read posts so far of 2013, I figured I should follow up with 5 of the least read posts so far. Have you read them all?

1) They Were the Best of Times, They Were the Worst of Times

My first post. The one that started it all.

2) Love-Fueled Bible Study

My Bible Study series was largely left unread. Here is the final post in the series – have you read them all?

3) From the Vault: Thomas Cranmer

I’ve really been enjoying discovering new dead guys to post on the blog. This might be my favorite so far.

4) Languages, Part 3

I wrote a three-part series on the purpose behind studying the original Biblical languages. I really enjoyed writing this up for people to read!

5) Undeserved Grace

Sometimes I feel most in communion with God when I write, rather than speak, my prayers to Him.