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Sunday, July 9, 2017

How to Discover Jesus in the Old Testament: A Framework and Tools to Find the Christ

How to Discover Jesus in the Old Testament:
A Framework and Tools to Find the Christ

Luke 24 is about Jesus’ resurrection and how he meets two men on the road to Emmaus. The men speak about Jesus’ death but they don’t know it’s Jesus that they’re talking to. Jesus then says something very profound that gives us the framework for seeing him in the Old Testament. He says to the men in Luke 24:25-27: 25 “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Amazing, is it? I would have given anything to be there! Jesus teaches us that we are to believe what the whole Old Testament spoke about him. Moses spoke of Christ and all the prophets spoke of Christ.
Then in Luke 24:44-47 Jesus reveals himself to his disciples a saying, “44 These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” This is an amazing passage. The whole Old Testament was written about Christ, specifically that he should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. So where do we see that? Where does the Old Testament say specifically that the Christ would rise after 3 days? Jesus also says that the Old Testament predicted that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed to all nations. Where do we read that? Jesus opened the minds of his disciples to understand the Scriptures to see him there, so we should pray and ask God to do just that for us.
            In Acts 3:18 and 19, the Apostle Peter spoke to a group of Jews, saying, “18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, [do you see that? All the prophets!] that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” All the prophets of the Old Testament spoke about Christ. It might be hard to see Christ in the Old Testament at times, but we have been promised that he is there.
            Peter speaks again about this in 1 Peter 1:10-11. He says, “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you,” Peter says the same thing here too as he did in Acts and he tells us even more. He says not only that the prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ and his resurrection but also that they were prophesying to us about grace. Grace we’d receive through Christ.
So when we read the Old Testament we can be on the lookout constantly for Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One who would suffer and die, and for a message of grace and forgiveness of sins for all nations.
So that’s our framework for reading the Old Testament. We’ve been promised that Christ and grace is there for us to see, so how do we practically see Christ and hear Christ in the Old Testament? It’s like we’ve been brought to this large field and we’ve been told that there are treasures buried all around and all we need is the right tools to find them and dig them up.

We know Christ more through the Old Testament when:
1) We see Christ
  • His presence (visions and theophanies/Christophanies)
  • His hand (his works in creation and redemption)
  • His character and work in people and things (Types and shadows)

2) We hear Christ
  •  His voice directly (Psalms, prophets)
  • Others’ voices about him (Promises, covenants, prophecies)
  • His gospel story in OT narratives (narratives)

Certain tools find certain things. A metal detector finds rare coins, a stud finder finds wooden beams, a compass finds north, and a GPS finds the nearest caffeine supplier. So certain tools find certain things. The same is true for the Bible study tools we use to find Christ in the Old Testament. There are certain tools for finding certain aspects of Christ. So what aspects of Christ can we find? There are two main categories: you can see Christ and you can hear Christ. You can see Christ in 4 ways and you can hear Christ in 3 ways.
            Let’s break down both of those. First, in what ways can you see Christ in the Old Testament? As I said there are 4 ways I can think of, there may be more, but here are 4 along with the tools you can use to find them.
            The first aspect of Christ you can see is His presence. We can see his presence with two tools: visions and theophanies. Visions, and I’d also include dreams with visions, are times in the Old Testament when we see a picture of Christ revealed by God. A theophany is a revelation of God, a visual picture of his presence. When we see a vision of God and we believe it is Christ himself, theologians will sometimes call it a Christophany.
One one of the greatest visions and theophanies, or Christophanies, of Christ in Old Testament is Isaiah 6. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees a glorious vision of the LORD on his throne:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
       “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
       the whole earth is full of his glory!”
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
            Isaiah saw the King! He saw the king that everyone had been waiting for. The king that Moses prophesied about, the King that Israel didn’t have during the time of the Judges, the King that was greater than Saul and David and Solomon and Uzziah and all the other kings that failed Israel again and again and again. Who was this king? The Apostle John in John 12:41 tells us plainly, saying “41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory [that is Christ’s glory] and spoke of him.” Jesus Christ is the Lord, he is Yahweh, the King of kings seated on the throne, holy and mighty and worthy of the worship of the great seraphim and of all living creatures in heaven and on earth! This is an example of a vision and a theophany where we can see Christ’s presence.
            The second aspect of Christ you can see is His hand, that is we can see Jesus actively working in the Old Testament. The tools you can use to find his hand are by looking at God’s work in creation and redemption in the Old Testament. John 1 says that all things were created by Jesus, so we can see him in creation. We also see him working to redeem his people. For example, The Angel of the LORD that we see throughout the Old Testament is considered by many solid theologians to be a Christophany, an appearance of Christ himself, and it is often that when the Angel of the LORD appears he works to help save his people, like in 2 Kings 19 when the Angel of the LORD kills 185,000 Assyrians who are laying siege on Israel.
            The third and fourth aspects of Christ I’ve combined together because you use the same tools to find them: the third is you can see His character and the fourth is His gospel mission, the work he will do in his incarnation. You can see his character and his future gospel mission in Old Testament people and things who are types and shadows of Christ. A type is someone or something who isn’t Christ but represents Christ. The word “type” is a biblical word, a tool that Paul used in Romans 5:14 to see Christ in Adam. He says, “14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” Adam was a type of Christ in that he was the firstborn, the head of the human race, just as Christ is the firstborn from the dead, the first of all who would be born again and resurrect to the new life, and thus he is the head of all the Church.
So there are types, but also with types there are antitypes. An antitype is someone who is the opposite of Christ. It is interesting that every person who is a type of Christ in the Old Testament is also imperfect and sinful and thus at times an antitype. So we see Christ even in antitypes or types that only partially look like Him in that we’re able to look at them and say, “This guy is good, but he’s not the one we’re looking for. He’s not the king we want. He’s not the prophet. We need to keep looking and waiting for the promised Messiah.” With these antitypes we often use a lesser than / greater than comparison with Jesus, like Jesus is greater than Adam. Jesus is the better Moses. Jesus is the perfect Israel. Jesus is the better David. So types make us look to Christ and so do antitypes, they keep us longing for a better prophet, priest, and king. So there are types and there are shadows. A shadow is similar to a type in that it represents Christ but it also is something that finds its fulfillment or its full revelation in Christ. Hebrews 10:1 says, “the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities,” The law and many aspects of it like the temple and its pieces, are shadows that find their fulfillment and full revelation in Jesus Christ.
Now not only can we see Christ, but we can hear his voice in the Old Testament. There are three ways I have, and there may be more or other ways of categorizing them.
First, we can hear Christ’s voice directly, that is the very voice of Christ himself speaking to us. Now first of all every word of the Old Testament is Word of God, and it was revealed to the authors of scripture by the Spirit of Christ, so every word of the Old Testament is Christ speaking to us, it is just through other people. But what I mean by hearing Christ’s voice directly is that when we use tools such as reading the Psalms or prophecies or poems, there are passages that sound like it is Christ’s own voice, as clear as when he’s speaking in the New Testament. Dozens of the psalms are like this, just read Psalm 16 or 22.
Second, we can hear Christ in other’s voices about him. We hear about him in promises, covenants, and prophecies. Last week we heard about Jesus through the promise of the offspring that will crush the head of Satan the serpent. Jesus is promised also in the covenants made to Abraham, Moses, and David. He’s the offspring, the righteous branch, the king that will forever be on David’s throne! There are dozens of promises, covenants, and prophecies throughout the Old Testament about Christ, and these are some of the easiest ways to find Christ.
And last, we can hear Christ when we hear his gospel story in Old Testament stories. The gospel story has a flow to it, a pattern: Christ lived, suffered, died, rose again, and is reigning in glory. The more you hear his gospel story the more you start to hear that same story with the same plot twists and changes in the stories of the Old Testament. Take Job for instance. Listen to the story of Job, does it sound like Jesus’ story? Job was a righteous and very wealthy man who worshiped God. The book of Job presents him in the beginning as practically perfect, there was nothing wrong with him in God’s sight. God chose to take all his riches away and afflicted his body and even the closest people to him did not understand his suffering. In the end, after Job had suffered miserably, God not only restored everything back to him, but gave him even more wealth and honor!  That’s the story of Job, but it also has the same plot twists and details as the gospel of Jesus, like his perfection, his intense suffering even though he was sinless, and his exaltation for his humble obedience. We see similar patterns in the stories of Joseph, Moses, Daniel, David, and others! So hear Christ’s gospel story in the stories of the Old Testament.
            So that sums up all 7 ways to see and hear Christ in the Old Testament. I hope these tools will help you to find Christ and worship him!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Make Sure You Pass On the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:1-7)

OutlineMake Sure You Pass On the Gospel (2 Tim. 2:1-7): 
Four Commands:
  1. Draw strength from the gospel (v.1)
  2. Pass on the gospel to others (v.2)
  3. Share in suffering for the gospel (vv.3-6)
  4. Think hard about the gospel (v.7)
Summary: We've learned that God has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit (1:1-7) in order to help us guard the gospel (1:8-18).  Now we are told that the gospel is to not only be guarded but also to be passed on to others (2:1-7).  And this work of multiplying the gospel calls for fresh supplies of gospel grace, a grace that not only saves us but sustains us in the work of passing on the gospel to others.  Three analogies (the solder, the athlete, and the farmer) help us to grasp the loyalty, self-discipline, and work ethic that is to mark the character of the Lord's people.  We must think often and clearly about gospel grace and the character it creates if we are going to effectively pass on the gospel.

Main Point:  We must work hard to pass on the gospel to those who will pass on the gospel.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is it about God's grace in the gospel that strengthens us? 
  • How did Paul endure to the end?  How was Timothy to endure?  How will we endure?
  • How can 2 Tim. 2:2 be carried out practically in a pastor's life? A believer's life?  In the life of a local church?
  • What is the relationship between 2 Tim. 2:2 and the Matt. 28:18-20?
  • Why do so many people and churches not practice 2 Tim. 2:2 (or Matt. 28:18-20)?
  • What do vv.3-6 tell us about the extent to which Jesus lays claim on our lives? (cf. Heb. 12:1-2)
  • What qualities is Paul emphasizing with each analogy (soldier, athlete, farmer) and why is each quality so important in a pastor's life?  In every Christian's life?
  • How might the promise in v.7 help motivate us to give ourselves to meditating on Scripture?
Application Questions:
  • What or who do I tend to look to for strength instead of fresh supplies of grace from Jesus?
  • How might it look for me to practically entrust the gospel to another person?
  • How can I adjust my priorities, disciplines, and work ethic to help me become a more effective disciple maker?
  • How clearly do I understand the mission of the church and my role in it?  Who can I talk with in order to gain more clarity?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for His saving grace and for His sustaining grace
  • Confess ways we've allowed ourselves to get distracted, undisciplined, and lazy in the work of passing on the gospel to others
  • Ask God to help us learn to run on fresh supplies of gospel fuel and not turn to "alternate fuels"
  • Ask God to help us to think hard about and stay focused on the task of making more and maturing disciples of Jesus 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Guard the Gospel-Deposit (2 Tim. 1:8-18)

OutlineGuard the Gospel-Deposit (2 Tim. 1:8-18): 
Four ways we guard the gospel-deposit:

  1. By recognizing the worth of the gospel
  2. By sharing in suffering to spread the gospel
  3. By following the examples of those who have faithfully shared in suffering for the gospel
  4. By relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to guard the gospel
Summary: In 1:6-7 we were reminded that God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit and has called us to treat the Spirit like a sacred flame that must be kindled by courage not quenched by fear.  So we have Holy Spirit, the very power of God inside of us.  But what is this power to be used for?  The next passage (1:8-18) answers this question:  The Holy Spirit, the power of God, is to be used to protect the gospel that has been entrusted to us (v.14).  As we depend on the Holy Spirit, we recognize the worth of the gospel and are motivated to follow the example of faithful brothers and sisters who have suffered to advance the gospel.

Main Point:  We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to share in suffering in order to spread of the gospel.

Discussion Questions:
  • Who's responsibility is it to guard the good deposit? (compare v.12 to v.14)
  • What are the four ways we are called to guard the gospel-deposit? Which one stands out to you the most? Explain.
  • What people come to mind as examples of those who have faithfully shared in suffering by the power of the Spirit in order to spread the gospel? What stands out about them?
  • What are some of the root causes for why people be ashamed of the gospel?
Application Questions:
  • What hinders me most from recognizing the worth of the gospel?
  • Am I actively sharing the gospel with unbelievers in my life?  If not, what is holding me back?
  • Am I willing to "drink" my share of the cup of suffering in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God saving us by His sovereign grace through the good news of the gospel
  • Confess ways we've fearfully shrunk back from sharing the gospel with others
  • Ask God to help us see afresh the worth of the gospel 
  • Ask God to awaken a willingness in us to "drink" our share in the cup of suffering
  • Ask God to help us rely on the power of the Holy Spirit as we seek to guard the gospel-deposit

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Believer's Power for Gospel Work (2 Tim. 1:1-7)

OutlineThe Believer's Power for Gospel Work (2 Tim. 1:1-7): 
  1. Paul encourages Timothy:  (vv.3-5)
  2. Paul exhortes Timothy (vv.6-7)
Summary: 2 Timothy is the last New Testament letter Paul wrote and is unique in light of the timing and context in which he wrote it.  Paul, a faithful and fearless gospel preacher, wrote from prison as he awaited his execution. Paul had fought the good fight and had finished his race well (4:6-8).  2 Timothy was written to help Timothy (and every follower of Jesus) do as Paul did: run well and finish well. 2 Timothy is a call to faithful endurance in the face of the suffering and opposition that inevitably come to those who love Jesus and love lost sinners enough to go on boldly living and speaking the gospel.  In many ways 2 Tim. 1-7 is meant to provide a strong dose of personal encouragement that will motivate Timothy to live out everything Paul will say in the rest of the letter. And with this personal encouragement also came the challenging reminder that we have received a gift and that we have a responsibility to make full use of that gift. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit and has called us to treat the Spirit like a sacred flame that must be kindled by courage not quenched by fear.

Main Point:  We are to treat the gift of the Holy Spirit like a Sacred Flame that must be kindled by courage not quenched by fear.

Discussion Questions:
  • What do you think Paul is intending to accomplish by writing 2 Tim. 1:1-7? How might these verses flavor the rest of this letter?
  • What is it that Paul sees in Timothy that makes him grateful to God in prayer (vv.3-5)?
  • What is the gift of God and how should Timothy treat that gift (v.6)?
  • What might it look like for one to quench the Spirit by acting out of fear?
  • What might it look like for one to kindle the Spirit by walking in the power, love and self-control that characterize the Spirit?  
Application Questions:
  • In what ways do I tend to quench the Spirit out of fear?
  • What would it look like for me to courageously kindle the Sacred Flame, the Holy Spirit, in my spheres of influence (relationships at home, church, work, etc)? 
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God saving us and giving us the gift of the Holy Spirit to empower us for gospel work  
  • Confess any ways you are currently walking in fear and thus quenching the Spirit in your life
  • Ask God to help you overcome fear in your life and step out of your comfort zone
  • Ask God help us treat the gift of the Holy Spirit like a Sacred Flame that must be kindled by courageously walking in the power, love, and self-control supplied by the Spirit

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Conclusion: Guard the Gospel-Deposit! (1 Tim. 6:20-21)

OutlineGuard the Gospel-deposit (1 Tim. 6:20-21): 
  1. What is the deposit? (v.20a; cf. 2 Tim. 1:8-14)
  2. Who is commanded to guard the deposit? (v.20a; cf. v.21b; 4:12)
  3. How can we faithfully guard the deposit? (v.20b-21b)
Summary:  In many ways the whole Book of 1 Timothy has been about guarding the gospel by lifting it up (1 Tim. 3:14-16). Thus it is no surprise that we find in the final two verses Paul's solemn and climactic command to guard the deposit, that is, to guard the gospel as a most precious and sacred trust. At very least, the gospel is guarded by not giving an inch to the false "knowledge" that is peddled by false teachers in opposition to God's word and ways.  Some have embraced such "knowledge" and have swerved from the true faith.  To keep the faith one must continually protect the good news.  And to protect the good news one must continually look to Christ for fresh grace and reassurance.  It is only by God's grace that we can guard the gospel of grace.

Main Point: Christians must guard the gospel by drawing strength from the grace of the gospel

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the deposit? (v.20a; cf. 2 Tim. 1:8-14)
  • How do we know that the command to guard the gospel applies to us and not just to Timothy? (cf. v.21b "you" plural; 4:12)
  • When we repent and believe in Jesus, how does the gospel protect us?  What do we need to be protected from?
  • What does it look like for the church and individual Christians to protect the gospel? Answer this question first from 6:20-21and then from the whole book of 1 Timothy. 
  • How are the words "Grace be with y'all" both encouraging and instructive?  
Application Questions:
  • How has the gospel protected eternally me? How should I respond to such protection?
  • How can I more faithfully protect the gospel in my spheres of influence this week?
  • How can I be rightly sobered yet not crushed by the weight of the sacred responsibility to guard the gospel?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for protecting us from Himself through the grace He extends to us in the gospel 
  • Praise Jesus for being the good man who brought good news so that we can live the good life
  • Confess any ways you have failed to protect the gospel and live in light of its worth
  • Ask God to strengthen you by His grace so that you can guard the gospel of grace
  • Ask God to strengthen us by His grace so that, as a church family, we can protect the gospel
  • Ask God to help us faithfully entrust the gospel to others who will go and do likewise

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Charge to the Rich (1 Tim. 6:17-19)

OutlineA Charge to the Rich (1 Tim. 6:17-19): 
  1. The dangers that come with being rich (v.17a)
  2. The responsibilities that come with being rich (vv.17b-18)
  3. The eternal perspective that defines what it means to be truly rich (v.19)
Summary:  We have learned about how contentment is cultivated when we humbly agree with God about what our real needs actually are, about the temporary and fleeting nature of money and possessions, and about the genuine gain that comes from living a godly life protected and purified by contentment (6:6-8).  But one thing is painfully obvious (especially in on our intensely materialistic culture): contentment will not be attained without a fight.  Therefore, Christians must engage in a life-long fight for contentment, a fight which calls for both offensive and defensive strategies (6:11-12).  And where shall we find such strategies? We find them in the very next passage, that is, in the charge to the rich in 6:17-19.  Here we are given an eternal perspective defining what it means to be truly rich.  This perspective warns us of the dangers and inspires us with the responsibilities that come with being rich. When the dangers are heeded and the responsibilities embraced, we are those who find real gain and a firm grip on what is truly life.

Main Point: Rich Christians must set their hope on God by imitating God's generosity.

Discussion Questions:
  • What is the relationship between contentment (6:6-8), the fight of faith (6:11-12) and the charge to the rich (6:17-19)?
  • What dangers come with being rich (v.17)? Why must we be on guard against such dangers?
  • God is described as one "who richly provides us everything to enjoy."  What does this say about God?  How should this fact about God shape how we use our wealth?  
  • Practically speaking, what might it look like to be ready to share?
  • If rich Christians are not imitating God's generosity, what does that say about their hope?
  • How does v.19 give us an eternal perspective on what it means to be truly rich? How should that perspective shape how we heed the dangers and embrace the responsibilities that come with being wealthy Christians?
Application Questions:
  • How am I practically imitating God's generosity in the use of my wealth?
  • What practical steps can I take to be more ready to share generously with others?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for the greatest display of His generosity--the gift of His own dear Son
  • Praise Jesus for making an eternal investment by shedding His blood for us
  • Ask God to help us flee the dangers of pride and false security that come with being rich 
  • Ask God to help us imitate His generosity by being rich in good works and ready to share our wealth for the good of others

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Fight the Good Fight of Faith (1 Tim. 6:11-16)

OutlineFight the Good Fight of Faith (1 Tim. 6:11-16): 
  1. The command to fight (vv.11-12)
  2. The motivation to fight (vv.13-16)
Summary:  God has called us into a fight, a life-long fight of faith.  By God's grace we have been called through the gospel and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, we must take hold of the eternal life that first took hold of us.  We made a public confession of our faith and now we are called to continue in our confession by fighting the fight of faith.  Like a boxing match, the fight of faith will include strategies of both defense ("flee") and offense ("pursue").  We are commanded to engage in such a fight.  And our motivation for heeding the command comes from the fact that the fight takes place in the presence of God the Father and God the Son.  Both God's intimate presence with us and Jesus' example of making and continuing in His confession are meant to motivate us to fight hard until the bell rings at Jesus' return.   

Main Point: We must persevere in the faith by engaging in a disciplined fight to trust God and keep His word until Jesus returns.

Discussion Questions:
  • How should Jesus' good confession made before Pontius Pilate (v.13; cf. John 18:28-19:16) motivate us to continue and persevere in our good confession (v.12)?
  • The fight of faith is like a boxing match that includes the need for both defense ("flee") and offense ("pursue").  From v.12 and your own experience, how might a christian "fly like a butterfly" and "sting like a bee" in his fight of faith?
  • How should the majestic description of God in this passage (esp. vv.15-16) motivate us to engage in a disciplined fight to trust God and keep his word?
  • How long must we engage in the fight of faith? 
Application Questions:
  • Do I live like I understand that the normal Christian life is a fight to trust God and keep His word until Jesus' returns?  In other words, do I expect my life to be a fight?
  • How am I currently fighting the good fight? What situations in my life are calling for greater defense and what situations are calling for greater offense?
Prayer Points:
  • Praise God for calling us though the gospel and the powerful working of the Holy Spirit
  • Praise Jesus for making and persevering in His good confession even in the face of the cross
  • Praise God for His intimate presence with us as we fight to persevere in the faith
  • Ask God to help us discipline ourselves to "fly like a butterfly" as we flee sin and temptation
  • Ask God to help us discipline ourselves to "sting like a bee" as we pursue righteousness 
  • Ask God to encourage and empower someone you know who is struggling in the fight of faith