Archive for October, 2015

October 31st . . . for much of America this day means dressing up and eating candy until you literally get a cavity overnight.  This is true for both the churched and the un-churched in many places.  However, this date means something different from some Christians (such as myself).  October 31st is Reformation Day; the day that Martin Luther took his stand against the Roman Catholic Church and nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in 1517.  It was a day that marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.  This 31st day means different things for different people.  I am not setting out to argue for or against the tradition of “trick or treating.”  My family has chosen to not participate most years; however, a recent conversation with my mother has caused me to consider an alternative approach to the day.  It was such a brilliant idea that I thought I would share it with those who may decide to join in the candy grabbing tradition.

Here is the idea:  When your children go trick-or-treating (assuming they want to treat instead of trick), use it as an opportunity to have a gospel conversation.  Take a Bible tract, church information card, or even a Bible to give to each person or home that you visit.  Instead of just getting something delicious that will only last a short while, present them with the bread of life that can sustain them for eternity.  There is no doubt that this kind of thing could (and should) be done every day of the year, but I believe that this day can be used and capitalized on.  Below are three reasons why.

This is the one time a year you have an open invitation to knock on someone’s door. 

            We live in a day and time where we are more and more inclusive than ever.  We are so busy in our lives that our homes have become a place of seclusion instead of a haven for friends and family.  Front porches are smaller, man caves are more popular, and many do not even know what a welcome mat is.  However, on this day, many openly welcome you to their home.  They welcome you to ring their door bell or knock on their door.  They do not run and hide as if you are a Jehovah’s Witness.  They eagerly wait for you with an open door and an open bowl of candy.  Can you think of a better time than this to bear witness to Christ by inviting them to your church, giving them a gospel tract, or giving them a Bible?  This is an open invitation.

This is the one time a year you can talk freely to a stranger.

It goes something like this; “Ding Dong . . . oh look at you.  Let’s see, we have a princess, a construction worker (who is actually Thor from the Avengers), and a little bearLet me give you some candy.  Now, just take one each . . .”  They have engaged your children in conversation.  A perfect stranger has given you the opportunity to speak to them, in their home.  How hard would it be for your older children to say, “Oh thank you so much and we would like to give you this card that has information about our church on it.  I don’t know if you know Jesus, or attend a church, but we would love to invite you to ours.  Thanks again, and God bless.”  Do you think that would leave an impression?  You don’t often want your children talking to strangers, but this is the one time of the year that they can benefit from the opportunity.

This is the one time of the year that you actually go out as a family to specifically meet so many different people.

Let’s face it, while many people may have the intention to go door-to-door in their neighborhood to talk to their neighbors about the Lord, most of the time they never get around to it.  Here is the perfect opportunity to kill those preverbal birds with one stone.  You are already going to be taking your children door to door, use it as an opportunity to witness to your neighbor.  Let you children see you do it, so that they can in turn learn how to do it themselves.  It does not have to be a formal thing, but by at least initiating a gospel conversation you may open an opportunity for later conversation with them.  If you are going out anyway, use it for the glory of God.

Will this be a new Halloween (Reformation day) tradition for my family?  I am not sure of that yet, but I love the idea of it. So, will you join in this year?  I am sure your church would love to supply you with the needed tools if you don’t already have them yourself.  Instead of just focusing on family fun this year, use it as an opportunity to not just make memories with your kids, but make an impact for the Kingdom.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

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Finding Jesus in the Old Testament can be tricky to some, but for others they can seem to find Him everywhere.  It is certainly not a game of Where’s Waldo, but finding Jesus is not always the easiest thing.  There are varying philosophies to seeing Jesus in the Old Testament text.  Some want to see him as a type in every narrative account.  Others want to only say He is there if there is a direct prophecy about him fulfilled in the New Testament.  I believe the best and most accurate way of seeing Jesus in these texts is to find a balance of both . . . that is to say to find Him in both portraits and  prophecies.

Jesus in portraits:

It can be a dangerous and unhelpful thing to allegorize every Old Testament text to find Jesus in it, but there are certainly many accounts that seem to picture Jesus clearly.  When you look at the sacrificial lamb in the Old Testament, one would be hard pressed not to see Jesus there, since Paul says Jesus is that Lamb in I Corinthians 5:7.  We also can see Jesus in the prophet Moses when in Acts 7 Stephen makes the connection between the two.  When Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, according to John (John 3:14), that pointed to what Jesus was going to do on the cross.  David was clearly a type of Jesus as the king of his people. Jesus is the water that came from the rock in the wilderness (John 4:14). Just as it saved the people in the wilderness, it saves his people now.  But, not only was he the water, he too was the manna that fell from the sky.  In John 6:35 Jesus is said to be the bread of life.  This is the logical connection.  Typology has its weaknesses, but there are clear places in scripture where the text nearly demands it.

Jesus in prophecies:

According to what number of prophecies you believe in, Jesus fulfilled somewhere between 100-300 prophecies in his 33 plus years on earth.  There is no doubt where we find Jesus in these text.

  1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). It was fulfilled in Luke 2.
  2. The Messiah will have a forerunner. (Malachi 3:1). This is fulfilled in John the Baptist which can be found in Matthew 3:1-3.
  3. The Messiah would make His triumphant entry riding on a donkey from Zechariah 9:9. This comes to fruition in Matthew 21:7, John 12:14-16.
  4. The Messiah would die by crucifixion. (Psalm 22, especially vv. 11-18). We see this fulfilled in Luke 23:33, Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, John 19:23.
  5. Those who arrested Him would cast lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18). This was fulfilled in Luke 23:34.

So, weather in portrait or in prophecy, there is no mistaking that Jesus is most certainly in the Old Testament.  It just takes a carful exegete to find where.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell

There is an old adage that goes like this, “I don’t need the Old Testament, just give me Jesus.”  Now, I must say, I am all about Jesus.  I want Jesus in every aspect of my life.  However, if truth be told, if you really want Jesus, then you need the Old Testament.  Over the next couple of posts I would like to give you some reasons why we as Christians should not just read the texts of the Old Testament, but love them as well.  I want us to find Jesus in these texts and see how to apply them in our own lives.  But today I would like to answer the question, why should Christians study the Old Testament.  There are many valid reasons for Christians to study the Old Testament, but I would like to give you just three.

Because you need it to understand the New Testament:

The reality is the whole Bible is one continuous story.  One does not pick up The Lord of the Rings and start reading two-thirds of the way through it.  No, if you want to understand the whole story you start in the Shire, not Mordor.  It is the same thing with the Bible.  One could not properly understand Jesus dying as the sacrificial Lamb without having a good understanding of Leviticus.  Jesus being King of Kings and Lord of Lords makes much more sense when you understand I Samuel – II Chronicles.  One reason that Christians should study the Old Testament is so that they can understand the whole story, and not just parts of it.

Because all of it is God-breathed scripture, not just the New Testament:

II Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”  The scripture that Paul was alluding to was actually the Old Testament canon.  While it is true that Paul says that Peter is writing scripture, and Peter says the same of Paul, the reality is all New Testament Christians primarily read the Old Testament as their Bible.  While some of the nuances of the books of Numbers or Daniel may be hard to apply for those standing on this side of the cross, the fact remains that all 39 books of the Old Testament are still “profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”  And for this reason, we should read it.

Because Jesus and the Apostles read it:

When Jesus quoted scripture, what did He use?  When the Ethiopian eunuch was looking for answers to who Jesus was, what was he reading?  When Paul was standing before King Agrippa explaining what Jesus had done for him, what did he quote?  When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, what text was he reading from?  The answer to all four of these questions is the Old Testament.  This was still the Bible of the day for these men.  Yes, Paul, Peter, John, Luke and others were in the process of being inspired themselves to write holy writ; but they primarily read, studied, and taught from the Old Testament.  If this was their primary text, doesn’t it stand to reason that we too should be reading it as well?

There are so many good reasons for us to both read and study the Old Testament.  We should not just look at it to learn lessons on how to have the faith of Abraham or how to be a Daniel in our generation in modern Babylon.  We have the law to point us to a Holy God.  We have poetry to teach us what to sing in worship.  And we have the prophets that give us a glimpse at how God progressively revealed himself.  So, if you have not read those glorious old accounts of how God dealt with his people (our people) in the pages of the Old Testament in a while, I encourage you to visit with God in the Garden . . . wrestle with the Angle of the Lord with Jacob . . . sing a song with David.  Why should we as New Testament believers read about the God that is on the other side of the cross?  Simply, He is the same God of the New Testament, and you don’t want to miss out on the whole story.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Adam B. Burrell