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30 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 26— Psalm 34

Study 26 From The Psalms is:  Psalm 34

This is a psalm that shines with new light when we know the probable circumstances of the time when it was composed, See the psalm heading and 1 Sa. 21:10-22:2. Perhaps it was sung in the cave of Adullan for the instruction of David’s followers.
1.      Who are those who may expect the Lord’s blessings? Note the various ways in which they are described.  Are we ourselves entitled to claim blessings on the same ground?
2.      Make a numbered list (avoiding repetition)of the blessings God gives to His people, as stated in this Psalm.

29 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 25— Psalm 33

Study 25 From The Psalms is:  Psalm 33

This psalm begins where Ps. 32 left off.  The Hebrew word translated ‘rejoice’ in verse 1 is the same as that translated ‘shout for joy’ in Ps 32:11.
1.      The call to praise (verses 1-3) is followed by reasons for praise (verses 4-19). What are these, and do they help you to join in praising God?
2.      What reasons are given as to why the nation whose God is the Lord is blessed above other nations?  What is the psalmist’s response to this (verses 20 – 22)?
Note.  Verse 3 ‘A new song’: the song of the redeemed.  Cf. Ps. 40:3. ‘Play skilfully’: verb. sap, for all who aspire to lead the praise of God’s people.

28 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 24— Psalm 32

Study 24 From The Psalms is:  Psalm 32

1.      According to this psalm what are the indispensable conditions for enjoying the forgiveness of God?  Cf. Pr. 28:13.
2.      What great blessings does the forgiven soul receive, filling the heart with joy? What conditions of their continued enjoyment are laid down? Are you fulfilling these conditions?

27 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 23— Psalm 31

Study 23 From The Psalms is: Psalm 31

1.      What would you pick out at the most bitter ingredients in David’s cup of sorrow (verses 9-18)?  What would you do if you were in a similar situation? What did David do?
2.      In the rest of the psalm what witness does David bear to God both in his prayer and praise? What message does he bring to fellow-believers everywhere?
Note: Verse 5a. Cf. Lk. 23:46 as evidence that this psalm was in our Lord’s mind upon the cross.

26 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 22— Psalm 30

Study 22 From The Psalms is:  Psalm 30

1.      From what danger had God delivered David? What indications are there the danger had been very great? What was David’s state of mind (a) before the danger, (b) during its presence, and (c) after he was delivered from it?
2.       In regard to his experience, to what conclusions does David come about (a) the salutary effects of the afflictions, and (b) the purpose for which he had been delivered? What can he now do that he could not do in the same way before?  Cf. 2 Cor. 1:8-11


25 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 14— 1 Corinthians 16

Study 14 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 16

With this study we end the book of 1 Corinthians. The next study will take us once again to the Psalms
1.      Verse 1: ‘The contribution for the saints’. Paul was concerned about a fund which he had initiated among the Gentile churches to aid the poor of the church in Jerusalem.  What may we learn from his practical directions about the collections and sending of this money?
2.      What may we learn from this chapter about the plans, movement and ministry of Christian workers? How may we help such more effectively to do ‘the work of the Lord’?
3.      How were the five commands of verses 13, 14 particularly relevant for the church at Corinth as we know it from this letter? Let me also examine my own life in order to discover in what ways I, too need to heed these commands.   

24 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 13— 1 Corinthians 15: 35-58

Study 13 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

1.      What does the analogy of the seed suggest about the relation between our present natural body and our future spiritual body? In what ways will the latter be different from the former? What does verse 38b also imply?
2.      What will take place when Christ comes again? Cf. 1 Thes. 4:13 -18. In view of this, what should be the character of our present life and service?
Verse 36. Resurrection in Paul’s view is not a strange thing, but is embedded in the heart of God’s creative plan, both in nature and in grace.
Verse 49. ‘The image of the man of heaven’ signifies the likeness of Christ in His glorified body.  It is this likeness that we are to share.  Cf. Rom. 8:29; Phil 3:20, 21; 1 Jn. 3:2.
Verse 51. ‘We’ means ‘we Christians’. Some will be alive when Christ comes. 

23 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 12— 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

Study 12 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

One group at Corinth did not believe in life after death at all, another did not believe in the resurrection of the body. In this classic passage Paul deals with both groups.
  1. What strikes you about the content and the proclamation of the gospel as summarized in verses 1-4? What benefit does it offer to men, and how is this benefit to be enjoyed? Cf. 1 Tim. 1:15.
  2. What is the significance of the evidence which Paul marshals in verses 5-11 for the resurrection of Christ? What for Christians are the five far-reaching consequences of denying the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead? See verses 12-19.  Does death set any limit to your hope in Christ?
  3. What are to be the full and final consequences of the resurrection of Christ? Of what ultimate consummation is it the promise and pledge? Why are Christians able triumphantly to face death for Christ’s sake?
  1. Verse 28.  No change in the eternal relations between the Persons of the Trinity in meant here. It is the Son’s willing subjection in love.  Cf. 11:3.
  2. Verse 29.  The meaning of this reference is uncertain. What is obviously implied is that the practice mentioned is pointless if there is no life beyond death.

22 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 11 — 1 Corinthians 14

Study 11 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 14

1.      Try to form a mental picture of the church’s worship in Corinth. In what ways did it differ from the Church’s worship today? Did it include any features, no longer familiars, which it would be good to see restored?
2.      What two principles should govern the conduct of public worship and of church gatherings? How did Paul apply these principles in his directions about public worship in Corinth?
3.      Many in the church at Corinth seem to have coveted speaking with tongues.  What assessment does Paul make of this gift? What was Paul’s counsel to those eager for manifestations of the Spirit? Which gift do you earnestly desire?
Notes: Verse 3. Prophecy might include foretelling of the future (Acts 11:28), but was more normally a forthelling of God’s will for present ‘upbuilding’ and encouragement and consolation’.  In contrast to an unintelligible ‘tongue’ it was readily understandable and practically relevant to the hearers.

21 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 10 — 1 Corinthians 13

Study 10 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 13

The Apostle has urged the believers at Corinth to be zealous to possess the more excellent of the gifts (12:31), but before going on to explain what he means by this (chapter 14), he pauses to point out that spiritual gifts are of profit only when exercised in love.
1.      Verses 1-3. Why is love so all-important? In what ways does Paul show further in verses 8-13 that love is greater than all other gifts? How may it find expression in my life? Cf. 1 Jn. 4:7, 12; Gal. 5:22, 23.
2.      In verses 4-7 there are fifteen ways of describing love. Write them in a column and then try to put opposite each a single word summarizing it, and, if possible, an incident in Jesus’s life illustrating it. Then ask yourself: is this found in me?

20 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 9 — 1 Corinthians 12

Study 9 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 12

1.      List the different kinds of gift and of service which Paul mentions in this chapter. On what principle are they given, and for what purpose? What responsibility does the possession of such a gift put upon the person who has it?
2.      Consider how the character of the human body illustrates both the unity and the diversity of the Church.  What other lessons does the apostle draw from this illustration?   
Note.  Verse 1-3.  The necessary and decisive test of the presence of the Spirit of God in those exercising spiritual gifts is loyalty to Jesus as Lord. Cf. I Jn. 4:1-3.

19 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 8 — 1 Corinthians 11:2-34

Study 8 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 11:2-34

This chapter deals with tow irregularities in public worship.  The first concerns the proper way for women to dress when they take part in public worship.  The second concerns unchristian behaviour at the social meal, which was the occasion of the observance of the Lord Supper.
1.      What were the arguments that Paul brought forward to insist that in Corinth women should be veiled in public worship? How far are these arguments of permanent validity? May their application vary where prevailing social customs differ from those of Paul’s day? 
2.      What (according to verses 23-26) is the central significance of the Lord’s Supper?  What were the causes of some receiving it unworthily?  See verses 17-22 and 27-32.  How can we make our reception more worthy?
1.      Verse 10. ‘Because of the angels’: Christian worship was probably regarded as conducted in their presence and open to their view.
2.      Verse 10. The veil was both a symbol of authority, reminding the woman that her husband was her head, and also a sign of her modesty and chastity, for no respectable woman was seen without one in Corinth at that time.                            

18 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 7— 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1

Study 7 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:1

1.      10:1-13. The people of Israel, who came out of Egypt, enjoyed similar privileges to those of Christians.  What lessons then can we learn from their failures?   Why is the inevitability of temptation no occasion for despair? 
2.      Paul distinguishes between eating in an idol temple (verse 14:22), and eating meats bought in the market, which had been offered before an idol (verses 23-30). Why does he condemns the former, but permit the latter, except in the circumstances of verses 28, 29?  What principles does he lay down, in conclusions, to guide Christians in all such matters?

17 November, 2015

Search The Scriptures —Study 6— 1 Corinthians 8 and 9

Study 6 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is:1 Corinthians 8 and 9

The Church in Corinth had asked about the eating of food which had been offered before an idol. Picture yourself as a Christian in Corinth, invited to a social banquet in a temple, or seated as a guest in the house of a non-Christian friend, and offered food which had been resented in sacrifice to an idol. 
1.      8:1-13. Using the knowledge of truth as their sole guide (such truth as is stated in verses 4-6), what decision did the Corinthians come to about eating food offered to Idols? Did Paul agree?  List the reasons why he also says that in certain circumstances he would abstain from such eating.
2.      9:1-27. What basic principles which should govern Christian action does Paul here illustrate from his own conduct? In particular what rights does he show Christian workers to have, and what are his reasons for not using them?
1.      8:12 ‘Wounding… when it is weak’: note the contrast. What requires tender handling is brutally treated.  Cf. 9:22.  ‘The weak’: i.e, those whose grasp of Christian truth is feeble and who are timid in exercising their liberty in Christ. Cf. Rom. 14:1-3.
2.      8:13. This declaration is conditional and personal, not absolute and general. The significance of this should not be overlooked. Cf. 10:27-30.

16 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 5— 1 Corinthians 7

Study 5 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 7

In this chapter Paul is answering specific questions about marriage. These questions had been sent to him by the church at Corinth. His instructions are strict in view of the moral laxity of pagan Corinth and the ‘distress’ etc. referred to in verses 26-35. He shows that marriage and the single life are equally permissible and that each person must find out in which state God intents him to live (see verse 7).
1.      Why did Paul remain single (verses 7, 8)? See verses 25-35. Are his reasons relevant for us today?
2.      In verses 17-24 Paul is dealing with the wider question of the Christian’s position in the society of his day.  What rule is laid down for the Christian three times in these verses?  How does this apply to us? 
3.      Gather out Paul’s practical teaching about married life (2-5, 10-16) and compare his more theological treatment in Eph. 5:22-33.
1.      Verse 14.  These seems to have been a fear in some minds that continued union with an unbeliever after conversion to Christ might be defiling to the Christian partner. Paul says the opposite can happen.
2.      Verses 17-24.  Being ‘called’ in this section refers not to a person’s place and function in human society, but to God’s call through Christ to sinners.
3.      Verses 26, 28, 29, 31-35. The trying and transitory character of this present world, the added anxieties of married life, and desire to give undivided devotion to the Lord may provide reasons for abstaining from unnecessary change or involvement.
4.      Verses 36-38. A difficult section. Paul was probably advising a young man about his fiancée. But he could have been advising a father or guardian about a girl under his care.          

15 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 4— 1 Corinthians 5 and 6

Study 4 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 5 and 6

1.      Notice in chapter 5 the distinction in the attitudes enjoined towards sinning Christians and sinning non-Christians.  What special actions are here demanded of the local church, and why are such actions necessary?
2.      6:12-20.   These verses stress the permanent significance of the Christian’s body. List the points here mentioned.  What does it mean to glorify God in your body? What kind of actions are (a) appropriate, and (b) undesirable or even unthinkable?
3.      6:1-11. What reasons does Paul give here for viewing the public washing by Christians of their dirty linen as a denial of the Church’s mission in the world?
1.      5: 2. ‘Arrogant’: or ‘puffed up’. Used often by Paul in this letter (4:18, 19; 5:2; 8: 1; 13:5).
2.      5:5 Paul implies that physical affliction may follow excommunication.
3.      5: 6-8. Paul enforces his point by referring to the Passover practice of searching out and destroying all the old leaven before (not after) the Passover Lamb is eaten.  See Ex. 12:14, 15, 19. 

14 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 3— 1 Corinthians 3 and 4

Study 3 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 3 and 4

1.      3:1-4:2. Discover and summarize all that this section has to teach concerning the place and tasks of Christian workers.  What is, or should be, their relationship to (a) God, (b) each other, and (c) those among whom they work?
2.      4:1-21. What lessons are to be learnt from the earthly lot of the apostles?  Why are men’s judgements concerning the worth of Christian ministers’ work of such little value? How and when will the real worth of a man’s worth for God be made plain? Can the value of what he does affect his own salvation? Or what will it affect? See 3:13-15.
1.      3:12, 13.  The different materials here mentioned can be taken to represent the teachings of those who were ministering in the church; the gold, silver and precious stones being the doctrines of the Spirit, and the wood, hay and stubble the wisdom of the world.
2.      4:6. ‘To live according to scripture’: literally, ‘not beyond what is written’. This was probably a familiar catchword of the day.  AV supplies verb ‘to think’, which gives a more pointed sense in context than RSV ‘to live’.

13 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 2— 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16

Study 2 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16

1.      List Paul’s reasons for preaching the word of the cross in the way he did.  See verses 1:17-2: 5.  
2.      See 2:6-3:2.  What does Paul teach here about (a) ‘human wisdom’, and (b) ‘a secret and hidden wisdom of God’? How is the latter to be possessed, and by whom alone is it understood?
3.      Looking back over the passage, pick out the work of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the human preacher respectively in man’s salvation. Is the Lord Jesus Christ to you all that Paul speaks of in 1:30, 31?
1.        2:6. There would appear to be three groups of people in Paul’s mind: (a) ‘the mature’ (cf. ‘spiritual men’, 3:1); (b) ‘men of the flesh’ (or ‘babes in Christ’ 3:1); (c) ‘the unspiritual’ (or ‘natural’) man of 2:14.
2.         2:12, 13. The wisdom of God can be understood by the preacher, interpreted and imparted to others and received by the hearers, only through the aid of the Holy Spirit.  Cf. 2:4, 5.

12 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 1— 1 Corinthians 1:1-17

Study 1 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Is: 1 Corinthians 1:1-17

1.      Paul is setting out to deal with various divisive factors in the life of the church at Corinth.  What is significant, therefore, about his approach in verses 1-9? What may we learn from these verses about our privileges and prospects as Christian?
2.      What were the main causes of the dissensions in the church at Corinth? See verses 10-17; Cf. 3:3, 4, 21. How may similar dissensions arise in church life today? According to this passage why are they fundamentally wrong and what is the remedy for them?

Note.  Verse 12.  Apollos was a Jew from Alexandria, a centre of philosophy. He was a man of learning and eloquence, and very able in argument.  See Acts 18:24-28.  It seems probable that some at Corinth preferred him to Paul for these reasons.       

11 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 0— 1 Corinthians Introduction

Study 0 From The Book of 1 Corinthians Introduction

 This Epistle was written by Paul from Ephesus (16:8, 9, 19) during his third missionary journey (Acts 19:1-10) about AD 56 or 57.  It is well to have in view, in reading the Epistle, the great Greek city of Corinth, with its pride of intellect, its idolatries and immoralities, and its busy commerce and thronging life.  The purpose of the Epistle was partly to answer questions sent to Paul by the Corinthians 7:1; 8:1; 12:1), partly to deal with distressing news which had come to him from Corinth about factions and other abuses in the church (1:11; 5:1; 6:1; 11:18, 20).  Paul had already written at least one letter to the Corinthians (5:9)

It will be seen from the Analysis that the Epistle is very largely concerned with questions of practical morality, and as such it has a deep interest for our own as for every age.  But, these questions are not dealt with on a basis of psychological analysis, but on the ground of the relation of the person to God.  For example, the factious spirit is wrong because a saving relationship with God is not obtained by intellectual brilliance but by humble faith, and because the ministers of God’s gospel are simply His servants responsible to Him.  Again, immorality is a defiling of the temple of the Holy Spirit, a misuse of the blood-brought property of the Redeemer, offered to Idols are first, that our liberty must not hurt the brother for whom Christ died, and second, that we cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.  Thus in morals, as in doctrine, the great truth prevails that Christianity is Christ.  Also, abiding value.  They can and ought equally to inform and guide our own action, when we are confronted by problems which, however different in outward form, are the same in their fundamental spiritual issues.

The Epistle contains two of the grandest passages in the New Testament, the beautiful description of Christian love in chapter 13, and the defence and explanation of the doctrine of the resurrection in chapter 15.

10 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 29— Exodus 39 and 40

Study 29 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 39 and 40

With this study we end the book of Exodus and in the next study we will start the book of ‘1 Corinthians’
1.      Try to picture the Tabernacle and its furniture as here described. What New Testament truths does it foreshadow? Cf. e.g., Heb. 9:8-12.
2.      What phase occurs repeatedly in this passage concerning the making of the Tabernacle? What does this teach us about our own service for God? Cf. Jn. 15:14.
Note. 40:26. ‘The golden altar’: i.e., the altar of incense, called ‘golden’ to distinguish it from the brazen altar of burnt offering in the outer court (40:29). 

09 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 28 — Exodus 37:10-38:31

Study 28 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 37:10-38:31

1.      The Tabernacle signified both God’s approach to man and also man’s way of drawing near to God. In view of this, what is the significance of the table of showbread, the candlestick or lamp-stand, and the altar of incense? Cf. Jn. 6:57; 8:12; Heb. 4:16.
2.      Whence came the brass for the laver? Consider the part played by women in the making of the sanctuary. Whence came the silver sockets of the sanctuary? Cf. also 30:11-16. Is the fact that the Tabernacle was founded on atonement money significant?

08 November, 2015

The Scriptures —Study 27— Exodus 36:8-37:9

Study 27 From The Book of Exodus Is: Exodus 36: 8-37:9

1.      36: 8-38. Try to picture the holy place, as seen from within.  Of what would the sides, the roof, the ends, and the floor consist of? Of what were these a symbol?
2.      37:1-9. In what way do the ark and the mercy seat speak of Christ?  

Note.  The pronoun ‘he’ in 36:10, 11 etc., does not represent any particular individual. It might be better rendered ‘they’, as in Moffatt’s translation.  But the ark (37:1) was Bezaleel’s own work.