How to Create and Search a Passage List

In response to a recent blog about locating where Jesus speaks about the kingdom, a Logos user emailed me the following power-user tip that I wanted to pass along to you:

I create a Passage List of verses with Jesus as the Speaker in Reported Speech. Then in the future I search that list for the words I want. [Read more…]

Why Bother Learning about Angels? Michael Heiser Answers

What the Bible really says about angels is often overlooked or filtered through popular myths. Whatever you think you know about angels, there’s a good chance it’s wrong.

But why does that matter? Is a more accurate understanding of God’s heavenly host relevant for Christians today?

In his new book, Angels, Michael Heiser tackles these misconceptions head on. He grounds his study in the biblical context. In this excerpt, Heiser shows us why a correct understanding of angels is important in a correct understanding of God and his creation.

* * *

Popular interest in angels and angel stories is high, which is symptomatic of our culture’s insatiable appetite for the supernatural. It seems every other movie or television show features a paranormal theme, alien superheroes, or some mischievous or malevolent deity. Bookstore shelves are well stocked with books about aliens, preternatural creatures, and, of course, angels and demons. That wouldn’t be the case if they didn’t sell, but sell they do. Unfortunately, the content isn’t very biblical, even when it tries.

Much of what Christians think they know about angels is more informed by Christian tradition than Scripture. The angelology of Christian tradition is, to say the least, quite incomplete and, in some ways, inaccurate.

But why should we care about angels?

Because angelology helps us think more clearly about familiar points of biblical theology. God’s supernatural family is a theological template for understanding God’s relationship to his human family of believers—and our greater importance compared to them. Learning what the Bible says about angels ultimately is tied to thinking well about how God thinks about us. What God wants us to know about angels contributes to our eternal perspective.

In our discussion of Old Testament angelology, I’ll draw your attention to the plural language of Genesis 1:26 (“let us make humankind in our image,” LEB). That language isn’t a cryptic reference to the Trinity. God is speaking to his heavenly host. He is sharing a decision with them—decreeing his will, as it were. If he were speaking to the members of the Trinity, they would already know what’s in God’s mind, because they are coequal and coeternal with him. Instead, the plural language of Genesis 1:26 intentionally connects humanity, God, and the members of the heavenly host with respect to an important biblical concept: imaging God. Imaging God is about representation—acting on God’s behalf at his behest. Humans image God on earth. The heavenly host images God in the spiritual, non-terrestrial world. The two are connected by design—and that has amazing ramifications.

Humans were tasked to make the whole world like Eden: a place where God’s goodness was known and his presence experienced; where humanity’s needs were met and God’s created world could be fully known and enjoyed; where imagers related to each other the way God related to them, with joy and love. God intended humanity to finish a task he had begun. He wanted participation—and that should sound familiar if one is familiar with the heavenly host, God’s initial family.

Understanding this status provides an answer to questions like, “How should we then live?,” “How do we image God?,” and “How should we see and treat each other?” We image God by doing what he would do, when he would do it, and with the motivation he would have for doing it. Yes, we are lesser than God and will fail. But God forgives—another lesson on what imaging means. We image God when we imitate God, acting on his behalf. It’s difficult to see how any facet of this could be deemed impractical for Christian living.

You may not have realized it while you were reading, but we just thought theologically, by means of an insight about God’s heavenly host. Believe it or not, the significant, practical idea of imaging God extended from a more insightful angelology—drawn from the plurals of Genesis 1:26, where God speaks to his heavenly host. That insight helped us think about practical holy living. Surprise!

* * *

Discover what the Bible really says about angels and start thinking theologically about God’s heavenly host. Get Angels today!

Language Cannot Sit Still, Even in Church

An editor once told me I could not say that a certain contemporary theologian “channeled” Jonathan Edwards. It felt too New-Agey to him.

Usually I accept 100% of an editor’s suggested changes. I feel safer that way. But this time I protested. I felt that the editor was channeling persnicketiness. A brief tug-of-war ensued. He won; he happened to be my teacher.

Our friendly dispute offers yet another lesson about language that will be helpful for your Bible study.

Channel is, yes, a word used in New-Agey, séancey kinds of circumstances. It’s a metaphor: when Shirley MacLaine channels some spirit, she is “like” a narrow length of water connecting two larger bodies, only it’s not water but some spiritual essence that is flowing.

But languages never stop changing—a fact I never tire of mentioning, because it is so significant for Bible interpretation and for contemporary communication of the Bible’s message to others.

English has now developed a new metaphor off of the original one (!). People now commonly say things like, “President X channeled President Lincoln.” Such a sentence is not claiming that President X is engaging in New Age mumbo jumbo. No, in his mannerisms or decisions or wording he somehow mimicked Lincoln so well that it was like he was channeling him. This new sense of channel, says my dictionary, means “emulate or seem to be inspired by.”

This is the way language works. Physical things like channels become metaphors. And then those metaphors become so stable that they become, essentially, new words. People forget the old, literal meaning, or see it as a different word altogether. And then yet new metaphors are built off of the new word. (Language is so cool!)

And if you have a feeling that language shouldn’t do this, that it should just stop fidgeting and sit still, especially in church, take note: this very feature of language is found in the Bible.

Think of the word “pastor.”

The KJV uses the word “pastor” only once, in Eph. 4:11. It translates the Greek poimen. But everywhere else in the New Testament, seventeen times, this word is translated “shepherd.” Why did the KJV translators (and others to this day) choose “pastor” in this one place?

Because the context clearly shows that we’re talking about an established office in the church; the “shepherd” metaphor had become stable and, therefore, dead.

Our English word “pastor” has undergone the same process. It comes straight from the Latin word for “shepherd.” But you and I don’t hear pastor as an animal husbandry metaphor anymore. Similar things have happened with drug czar, for example, though my impression is that czar hasn’t gone quite as far on the dead-metaphor path. There’s still a whiff of Old Russia in the English word.

But, again, when I say the word pastor, I don’t smell sheep. If you insist that “pastor here in Ephesians 4 means shepherd,” you won’t quite be right. There’s a substantial difference between the two words.

My linguistics hero John McWhorter says, “One of hardest notions for a human being to shake is that a language is something that is, when it is actually something always becoming.” (3) The Greek of the New Testament is frozen in time, but all its words were undergoing this same process. Understanding this feature of language is helpful for careful, accurate Bible reading.

***

Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as an Academic Editor at Lexham Press, the publishing imprint at Faithlife. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.

 

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash.

Can You Tell Fact from Fiction When It Comes to Angels?

If you think angels look like diapered babies with a bow and arrow, think again.

Michael S. Heiser’s new book, Angels, seeks to provide biblical answers for common questions about God’s heavenly host. He addresses topics including what angels look like, what they do, and whether modern thinking about guardian angels is biblical.

Take this fun 12-question quiz to see if what you know about angels matches what the Bible really teaches, then share your score in the comments.

And once you’ve finished the quiz, pick up Angels—available now from Lexham Press!

 

How a Good Study Bible Makes a Teacher’s Job Easier

A solid study Bible with teaching outlines belongs in every Bible teacher’s library.

If you are veteran Bible teacher, they’re a great tool for on-the-fly lessons when you haven’t had time to dig deep.

If you are a brand new one, they can serve as a guide until you gain the instincts for teaching.

And if you’re responsible for training or discipleship, they’re a top-notch resource to help those you lead dive into Bible research.

Here are three ways an in-depth study Bible with teaching outlines can help you or Bible study leaders you’re discipling discover more insights during lesson prep:

1. You can find most—if not all—of the background info you need about a passage in one place

Every book in the Bible was written at a specific time in history to specific people for a specific reason. Any good study Bible will tell you what those are, and a study Bible with teaching outlines helps you go even deeper.

For example, knowing the book of James was written by the brother of Jesus during the Diaspora helps us discover what the book says, what it means, and how it applies to our lives. In The Teacher’s Outline and Study Bible on James, we learn that the “twelve tribes” named in James 1:1 indicate that the book’s audience are the people of Israel, specifically Jewish believers. Even though they were scattered by persecution, they were still the one people of God.

2. You see the main point and logical flow of the entire book with the detailed outline, so you know where your chosen passage fits as one piece of the whole

Each book of the Bible tells one cohesive story, but sometimes it’s hard to decipher why a particular passage exists where it does.

A study Bible with a teaching outline shows each turn and progression in a book so you can see how it all fits together. And when you see how the parts relate to the whole, you begin to see more in each part—and to see those parts in greater detail.

To use the example of James again, The Teacher’s Outline and Study Bible says in its introduction to the book,

James had two purposes for writing:

  1. To correct a corrupted faith that was rapidly seeping into the church. Many were professing faith in Christ, but living immoral and unrighteous lives. Their faith was profession only—a faith of license with little or no restraint upon behavior.
  2. To present the true faith of Christ: a faith of the heart—a faith that produces outward fruit. James’s point is very simple: a person is known to be a Christian only by his behavior. What he does proves one of two things: it proves he is a Christian or it proves he is not a Christian.

In the section on James 1:19-27, The Teacher’s Outline and Study Bible shows how James’ dual purposes for writing help us understand “the perfect law of liberty” in James 1:25:

The person who obeys and does the Word of God is blessed. Note that the Word of God is called the perfect law of liberty. This means that the Word of God will set a person free from the bondages of sin and death. The Word of God will free a person from all the temptations of this life and give him the full and victorious life for which his soul longs—a life that will continue on and on eternally with God.

With this short explanation, we can see how James makes connections between faith and life—and how God’s Word is at the center of both.

3. You get a ready-made lesson

When it comes to writing your Bible study lessons, some people only need a nudge in the right direction. Others excel at leading discussion but prefer to have others prepare the content.

Either way, a study Bible’s teaching outline gives you the tools you need to open God’s Word with others. The Teacher’s Outline and Study Bible (18 vols.) provides a short synopsis of the each text and what’s happening before jumping into a pre-written lesson. You can use the lesson as is, or you can use the insights you find to create your own lesson.

Whether you’re a pastor, a full-time Bible teacher, or a lay leader, a study Bible with a teaching outline may be just what you need to help you teach God’s word more effectively.

For more biblical guidance and teaching helps, get The Teacher’s Outline and Study Bible (18 vols.). You’ll save 20% while it’s still in pre-pub, but the price will go up when the series ships.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered—to Satan?

Throughout the New Testament, “family language” is used to describe the relationship of believers to God and Jesus. The Lord’s prayer instructs us to address God as “our Father” (Matt 6:9). Hebrews 2:11–12 reveals that Jesus considers believers his own siblings. Paul says Christians comprise “the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). How is it, then, that Paul tells Christians living in Corinth that believers unrepentantly living in sin should not only be put out of the Church (1 Cor 5:9–13) but also “delivered to Satan” (1 Cor 5:5)? [Read more…]

How to Find and Review Relevant Online Videos

As you well know, within our Logos Bible Software we have scores of resources ready to yield valuable information related to the passage or subject we’re studying.

Perhaps, however, you’re not aware that the makers of Logos have also curated online images and videos ready and willing to enhance our study!

Today’s post highlights the Curated Online Video search feature, which is available only with a Faithlife Connect subscription. If you have Logos 7 Bronze or higher, you can run similar searches to find preselected images from the web.*

For example, let’s say we’re studying 2 Timothy 3:16 and we’d like to watch online videos related to the passage.

Here’s how to find them: [Read more…]

3 Things You Might Not Know about C.S. Lewis

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

This is a post from the Logos Academic Blog remembering Lewis’ career, correspondence, and poetry. [Read more…]

Staff Picks: Our Favorite C. S. Lewis Quotes

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

We asked all of Faithlife to weigh in on their favorite C.S. Lewis quotes, and I’m pleased to share from their responses. They perfectly represent that blend of wit and depth that so characterizes Lewis’ body of work.

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Derek Brown, academic editor:

“Yes,” my friend said. “I don’t see why there shouldn’t be books in Heaven. But you will find that your library in Heaven contains only some of the books you had on earth.”

“Which?” I asked.

“The ones you gave away or lent.”

I hope the lent ones won’t still have all the borrowers’ dirty thumb marks,” said I.

“Oh yes they will,” said he. “But just as the wounds of the martyrs will have turned into beauties, so you will find that the thumb-marks have turned into beautiful illuminated capitals or exquisite marginal woodcuts.”

— from “Scraps” in the collection God in the Dock

Why I picked it: This quote perfectly captures Lewis’ love of literature, whimsical imagination, and profound belief in redemption. And I think he’s right.

 

Seth Copeland, software developer:

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

— from Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Why I picked it: It is the kind of thing Lewis sprinkled all through the Narnia books. These witty humorous thing that the adults reading the books to their kids would chuckle at.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

— from The Weight of Glory

Why I picked it: If asked for the most famous C.S Lewis quote this one is kind of like answering “Jesus” in kids’ Sunday School.

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

— from The Four Loves

Kaeli Joyce, Mobile Ed editor:

Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him.

— Ransom, in Perelandra

Why I picked it: Throughout this work Lewis holds God’s sovereignty and human responsibility beautifully in tension. Ransom’s words help me realize the gravity of the meaning of obedience to God in my own life.

 

Virginia Pettit, software developer:

I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.

— from The Screwtape Letters

Why I picked it: During a church camp in high school some of the camp counselors put on a show that featured a theatrical reading of excerpts from The Screwtape Letters. For me, that’s when a lot of things became real. I feel haunted by them, and I think that’s how we’re supposed to feel.

 

Ian Mundy, software developer:

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.

— from The Silver Chair

Why I picked it: Other than the Bible, The Chronicles of Narnia are the only books from my childhood that I remember my mom reading to me (though I’m sure there were others). This has always been one of my favorite quotes from that series, from maybe my favorite book in it.

 

Steve Runge, scholar-in-residence:

I wonder what has happened. Are you ill—or away—or simply lazy? However, as you wrote to me so perseveringly during my silence (tho’ you must allow that mine was foretold and unavoidable) I will continue to write during yours: and also to prevent a bad habit of silence setting in on both sides.

— from The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, vol. 1.

Why I picked it: I often read from these letter volumes at night when I want to read something but don’t have time for a long work. They are a constant encouragement about finding joy in the moment, cherishing friendship, and just taking the time to be snarky with artful prose when it really doesn’t matter much. This quote is a complaint to spur his pen pal to reciprocate, but that Lewis won’t let the correspondence end simply because it’s not his turn to write.

 

Jennifer Grisham, copywriter:

‘And who are all these young men and women on each side?’

‘They are her sons and daughters.’

‘She must have had a very large family, Sir.’

‘Every young man or boy that met her became her son—even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.’

‘Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?’

‘No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more… Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them…. Already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.’

— A scene from The Great Divorce

Why I picked it: This quote from The Great Divorce gave me a vision for my life that I’d never seen before. In this section, a fictional version of George MacDonald tells the main character about Sarah Smith, an unmarried woman who cared for everyone around her so much that her joy became their joy. Oh, to share even half as much of God’s love and life with others as she!

Matthew Boffey, copywriter:

I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I never have set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, “Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.”

— from The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, vol. 3.

Why I picked it: This is from a letter to Hila Newman, a child who sent Lewis some drawings of the characters in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (including Reepicheep the mouse). I love Lewis’ imagination here, and that he—with his brilliant mind and busy schedule—takes the time to share such a silly thought to his and the child’s delight. Reminds us the importance of noticing and delighting in the smallest things (and creatures).

 

Jessi Strong, associate editor of magazines:

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them.

— from The Weight of Glory

Why I picked it: I could paste this whole essay. When I first read it 15 years ago, I felt so heard and understood, like Lewis was telling my own story back to me, and giving a proper name and context to all my feelings of needing to belong and to matter.

 

Liz Roland, program manager:

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.

***

We hope you’ve been enjoying this special week celebrating Lewis’ life and work. There are just a few more days left to grab the C.S. Lewis Collection for 30% off.  The rare sale ends midnight Sept. 24.

 

For more posts about Lewis, see below:

9 Shareable C.S. Lewis Quotes

4 Ways C.S. Lewis Can Shape Your Faith: Insights from a Scholar

3 Simple Reasons You Can’t Dismiss Miracles in the Bible

The Only Three Kinds of Things Anyone Need Ever Do

C.S. Lewis: A Lutheran Appreciation

Why We Do What We Do: C.S. Lewis on Motivation

On Misquoting C.S. Lewis (and Knowing an Author’s Voice)

When Everything Seems in Ruins: Encouragement from C.S. Lewis

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

This guest post is from pastor and C.S. Lewis scholar Ryan Pemberton.

***

When I get called in to speak, it’s either on the topic of C. S. Lewis or calling. That’s about all I’m good for, I like to joke (half-jokingly). The best is when I can share a bit on both.

As a minister for university engagement in Berkeley, I’m often doing some combination of the two. And while C. S. Lewis is quoted as much as any other writer among Christians, it isn’t often that I see others looking to Lewis for wisdom on calling. But I’ve found him to be a helpful guide here, too.

While studying theology at Oxford, I had the privilege of serving as President of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society. Nowhere else was my feeling of Imposter Syndrome more acute.

One of the many perks of this role was the opportunity to meet scholars and those who knew Lewis during his life, and to hear firsthand stories of their experience with Lewis. One of the most memorable of those conversations was with Laurence Harwood, C. S. Lewis’s godson.

Laurence was tall and well dressed. He spoke in a calm voice, which peaked to excited high notes when he recalled what it was like to grow up with Lewis visiting his family’s home for dinner.

“I always loved it when Jack came around,” Laurence told us over dinner. “As children, we’d be playing games when he’d come over, and he’d get right down there with us on the floor, at our level. He was genuinely interested in what we were playing, and he’d play with us. Not in a condescending way. He’d always beat us, of course, but we really enjoyed him.”

Before our meal was finished, Laurence shared a difficult experience he faced during his own days as an Oxford student. He told us how, after being struck with double pneumonia, he did not pass his first-year’s preliminary exams, and therefore was not able to return for his second year. He received a letter from Lewis in response to hearing this news.

“At the moment, I can well imagine, everything seems in ruins,” Lewis wrote to Laurence. “That is an illusion.”

Lewis encouraged his godson neither to dwell on this seemingly bad news, nor to consider himself the victim of Oxford’s exam system, but rather to do his best to brush himself off and get on with life. He must trust that this would actually serve to save him much hard work and many years spent traveling in what very well might have been the wrong direction.

Lewis went on to explain that many people, if not most, find this to be one of life’s most difficult periods, struggling from failure to failure, as it had been for him:

Life consisted of applying for jobs which other people got, writing books that no one would publish and giving lectures that no one attended. It all looks hopelessly hopeless, yet the vast majority of us manage to get on somehow and shake down somewhere in the end. You are now going through what most people (at least most of the people I know) find, in retrospect to have been the most unpleasant period of their lives.

But it won’t last; the road usually improves later. I think life is rather like a bumpy bed in a bad hotel. At first you can’t imagine how you can lie on it, much less sleep on it. But presently one finds the right position and finally one is snoring away. By the time one is called it seems a very good bed and one is loath to leave it. (C. S. Lewis, My Godfather, 125)

For those of us standing on this side of Lewis’s remarkable success and achievements, it’s difficult to imagine his experience with self doubt and vocational struggles. And yet, knowing that Lewis struggled here can offer peace to those of us who are yet struggling with disappointment or questions. If nothing else, Lewis’s candid letter is a reminder that faithfulness to the One who calls, rather than to any particular call, is the true measure of success.

***

Ryan J. Pemberton, MA (Oxon), MTS (Duke Divinity School), is the minister for university engagement at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. He is the author of Called: My Journey to C. S. Lewis’s House and Back Again (Leafwood Publishers) and Walking With C. S. Lewis: A Spiritual Guide Through His Life and Writings (Lexham Press). Follow Ryan at @ryanjpemberton or RyanJPemberton.com.

For more C.S. Lewis insights, read the man himself. Grab the C.S. Lewis Collection for 30% off while you still can—the rare sale ends midnight Sept. 24.

Or check out the other posts in this series:

 

Photo by Elias Schupmann on Unsplash.