The Encourager

The Encourager

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Paul's Appeal to the Old Testament - by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Paul’s Appeal to the Old Testament

Jeff Curtis


Paul’s reference to “strange tongues” in 1Corinthians 14:21, examined in the context of Isaiah 28:11-12, could seem strange to readers of the Bible today. Isaiah’s message to his contemporaries about a ‘foreign tongue’ concerned God’s speaking to Israel through a foreign people. It had nothing to do with those people at Corinth who had been gifted by the Holy Spirit in the church at Corinth. If the passage in Isaiah wasn’t predicting the New Testament events, what was Paul’s purpose in citing it?


Christians should realize that not every quotation of the Old Testament in the New Testament is a prediction of some event in the life of Christ or some aspect of the church He built. (1) Sometimes New Testament writers used the Old Testament to support godly ethical imperatives. When Paul wrote, “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8), and then named several to the Ten Commandments, he wasn’t saying that these words were about Jesus or His people. Rather, he was drawing lines of continuity between the Old and New Testament. He was asserting that the message of Christ requires the same kind of moral living that the Old Testament required.


(2) At times an event in the history of Israel was described in language that was suitable for a similar event described in the New Testament. When Matthew cited Hisea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I called My son” (Matthew 2:15), he wasn’t noting the similarity of events when the people of Israel, God’s son in a spiritual sense, came out of Egypt and the time when Joseph brought Jesus out of Egypt to live in Canaan. The two events were in some were similar, but Matthew had no need to do an exegesis of the Old Testament text to modern standards in order to justify his citation of the prophet Hosea.


The taking if words from their original context because of their appropriateness to a new situation is a common practice, both inside and outside the Bible. An illustration of this might help. One of the world’s most famous buildings is St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Among others buried there in the crypt of the cathedral is its architect, Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). His tomb is marked by a small plaque with Latin inscription that was written by his son. It is translated, “If you seek monuments, look around you.” When one lifts his eyes above the crypt, he sees the spires and grandeur of the cathedral, no mere statue was suitable for such a builder.


These words might be applied to the life of a person today. Suppose an elderly man lost his faithful Christian wife to death. At the memorial service, he might see people who she had counseled through crises, poor children she had fed, and women she had taught and encouraged to obey the Lord in baptism. Looking at these people whose lives his wife had blessed, he could say, “If you seek monuments, look around you.” By citing Wren’s epitaph, the husband would be claiming that the words had been written for his wife; yet they would be applicable, for the woman’s monument would be etched into the lives of living souls. New Testament writers used the Old Testament in a similar way, and that is the way Paul cited Isaiah 28:11-12 in 1Corinthians 14:21.

Using God's Gifts - Jeff Curtis

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Using God’s Gifts

By Jeff Curtis


The story of the call and birth of Samson in Judges 13 tells of the great potential God gave him. He worked miracles and wonders to provide Samson with the best start. He blessed him and caused His Spirit to stir in Samson.


Samson’s story should cause us to reflect on our own calling and birth circumstance. Obviously, no one today is called to rid the land of the Philistines, but the Scriptures make God’s purpose for life very clear. The majestic call of Jesus in Matthew 16:24 – “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” – should cause every follower of Christ to reflect on the whole concept of being asked by God to help Him in His mission in the world.


Samson’s birth raises the issue of natural qualities and abilities each person receives as a child. Every birth, whether the miraculous birth of Samson or the natural births of most other people, provides a challenge to reflect on how a person uses the investment God has put into him. Some, like Samson, fail to use their gifts correctly. Others carefully expand on their gifts in remarkable ways.


Maybe, the story also allows fathers and mothers to learn from Samson’s parents. The angel worked with them to convey God’s will, and they finally understood the message. They set the example for other parents to consider the gift God provides in each child. Some children may disappoint their parents at times, but the parents must focus on their task of allowing the children to grow up with God’s blessings.





Preventative Medicine

by Heath Rogers

“For this reason, I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you” (2 Peter 1:12-13).

Although they knew and were established in the truth, Peter realized these Christians needed to be reminded of some important truths. He was not insulting their intelligence. He was stirring them up with a reminder.

There are several important subjects that a local preacher needs to cover from time to time. Sermons are needed regularly on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, worldliness, sin, the church, scriptural worship, Bible authority, Bible study, evidences, prayer, and brotherly love. Preachers brought in for Gospel Meetings need to present sermons on these same subjects for the same reason.

While solid meat needs to be offered on a regular rotation, and mature Christians need to be challenged with “deep dives” into the treasures of God’s word, first principal sermons need to be preached over and over again. There are always those in attendance hearing them for the first time. There are young people maturing to the point they need these foundational truths explained to them. There are members struggling to teach their neighbors who need to hear these subjects laid out and explained clearly again. Balance is needed in the pulpit.

It is important for us to do things to keep our physical bodies healthy. A lot of times serious health problems are avoided if we practice some preventative medicine (eat right, exercise, take vitamins, get checkups, etc.). Serious spiritual problems in the local body of Christ (the church) are also avoided with some “preventative preaching.”

Think about it

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