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Online Christian Resources Available During Covid-19

March 26, 2020 Leave a comment

I’m still working full-time, though now from home, and church services are video recordings online.  As with everyone, I’m getting used to the “new normal” routine that we all are experiencing with the Covid-19 pandemic.  One good thing to come out from this is the additional Christian online offerings, free or at discounted prices.  Challies’ blog has a good summary of many covid-19 “specials” for Christians.

I especially like the Ligonier offer: all Ligonier teachings series now free to stream through the Ligonier app (available through the end of June); I’m now listening to a series on Deuteronomy (Robert Godfrey).  Other interesting series that I’ve downloaded in the app, include church history (also from Robert Godfrey) and a 5 part one on Blessing and Praise: Benediction.

A few years ago I started listening to a detailed Deuteronomy sermon series that ended abruptly at the beginning of Deuteronomy 4, for reasons that became apparent in the national news several months later, and I had not since found any (other) Deuteronomy sermon series.  The Ligonier series, from the fall of 2019, is less in-depth but covers the major themes and outline of Deuteronomy: a few chapters at a time, in 21 lessons of about 23 minutes each.

A few points brought out in the early messages:

  • the chiastic structure of Deuteronomy regarding the first and last chapters, then the next set in and next-to-last set at end, and so on to the middle point.
  • Major themes include the importance of leadership, and warnings against idolatry and exhortations to be faithful.

Since churches are now streaming their services, this pandemic crisis also provides the opportunity to watch video services and sermons from many more churches (than previously available).  Many church small-groups are now using Zoom for video-conferencing, including a group I’ve joined that just started a bible study on the book of Ruth.  On that topic (study on Ruth), I highly recommend an 8-part series that Liam Goligher did several years ago at Tenth Presbyterian Church.  Whereas most online studies of Ruth are at most 4 sermons (one for each chapter), this one goes into more detail, including three sermons each for Ruth 1 and Ruth 2.

Finally, here is one (of several) good and timely articles about how to make the most of the Covid-19 crisis:  Ten Ways COVID-19 Can Work for Our Good.

 

The Divine Unity of Scripture: Adolph Saphir

July 23, 2012 4 comments

I’m almost halfway through Saphir’s “The Divine Unity of Scripture,” one of the free online resources mentioned in this recent post.  The following is just some observations and general  notes concerning this book, which has been great reading.

This work comes from a series of lectures Saphir delivered, around the theme of the unity of scripture, in the late 19th century.  The overall theme is the exalting of scripture, how unique it is in all its ways, unlike any other writings we have, and how unified God’s word is in all its parts, with no conflicts between the Old and New Testament or amongst the many diverse human authors.  In the details, Saphir has a lot to say concerning the canon of scripture, the inspiration of scripture, the history of the writing of scripture, as well as summaries of what each Bible book highlights within the overall revelation from God, and the history of the Jews and the church to the present time (of his writing).

The early chapters remind me of J.C. Ryle’s great quotes about the Bible, affirming the same great truths.  Yet Saphir provides a much longer and more detailed treatment than Ryle provided in his comparatively-brief chapters, in this book about the book.  Like other 19th century authors Ryle and Spurgeon, Saphir frequently mentions the importance of the nation Israel.  Here, Saphir uniquely adds many more observations from his own Hebrew Christian perspective concerning the Jews of biblical as well as modern times.  The Divine Unity of Scripture sometimes reads like an apologetic, too, with Saphir’s responses to the liberal “higher criticism” of the day, refuting their notions of late-date authorship for the Pentateuch.  That particular idea is perhaps dated now, not something discussed that often, though I recall first coming across that idea in the introduction to a Chronicles of Narnia handbook in the early 1990s.  Saphir well responded with great points such as this:

therefore are all those fanciful theories, about the books of Moses having been fabricated after the exile, utterly void of common sense—as will appear still further from the next point. There is no other nation on the face of the earth that could have been induced to preserve books which so pictured their unthankfulness, their constant apostasies, comparing them with the other nations of the world and saying in effect, “You are worse than any other nation—less  loyal to me than the other nations are to their false gods.” If we read the five books of Moses from beginning to end, how they furnish a continuous picture of the wickedness and ingratitude of Israel  — and so with the other historical books …. Had such a record been artificially made, centuries upon centuries after the histories had taken place, it would not have been received. What an extraordinary thing it is that the Jews who killed the prophets and stoned them that were sent unto them, did not dare to touch the written records of their lives and all their testimonies,—nay, they reverenced those records and they looked upon them as the testimony sent to them by the Most High.

One trivial item: Saphir thought all the Bible authors, including Luke, were Jews; this was simply a given assumption without any reasons given for that conclusion.  I’ve come across a few reasons from people today holding to that idea, but mainly they argue from silence, such as what happened in Acts 21:29: if Luke were a Gentile, then why did they (the mob) only mention Trophimus with Paul, and not Luke?  I now concur with S. Lewis Johnson’s view, that Luke was a Gentile, primarily because of SLJ’s observation that Luke’s Greek was a very different style from the Greek used in the rest of the NT, that Luke’s Greek (except for the first two chapters) is the formal style used by the Gentile writers.

I highly recommend this Adolph Saphir work, even after reading only the first half.  Anyone who enjoys reading Christian authors who uplift the Bible and its amazing, timeless truths, will appreciate Saphir’s The Divine Unity of Scripture.

In closing, here is just one of many great quotes from Saphir’s The Divine Unity of Scripture:

The Bible needs no defense. The Bible defends itself; the Bible explains itself. I do not dread the pagans, I do not dread the infidels, I do not dread skeptics. I dread the false, compromising and conciliatory modern teaching in our Churches. That is the only thing that is to be dreaded. Let the Bible only be kept separate. As it is, it needs no defense. The Scripture needs no bulwarks. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, and who ever heard of defending a sword? It is the enemy who will advise you to put the sword into the sheath—a beautiful sheath with all kinds of metaphysical and artistic ornamentations. The sword must be unsheathed, for the sword is aggressive.

Oh that we may know the Scripture not merely as the sword of the Spirit; for that sword, although it may inflict pain, is meant for healing. Oh that we may know it as the gentle dew and rain that comes down from heaven and returneth not thither, but prospereth in the things which please God.