James Spurgeon’s middle name is Terrance!
I’m gathering resources for a teaching series through the Book of James. I would appreciate any recommendations that you might have.
So far I have these commentaries,
James, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians: An Interpretation of the English Bible-B. H. Carroll
The Letter of James (PNTC)-Douglas Moo
The Epistle of James: A Commentary on the Greek Text (NIGTC)-Peter Davids
James (NAC)-Kurt Richardson
I also have various one-volume commentaries (Matthew Henry, JFB, etc.) and handbooks (Introduction to the New Testament, The Message of the New Testament, etc.).
What commentaries have been helpful to you in your study of James?
What other resources have you found helpful?
Thanks for your help.
I’ve been reading Spurgeon’s Autobiography, as I have mentioned before. Let me encourage you all to get these two volumes. They are full of quotes like this one. Enjoy!
Let our lips crowd sonnets within the compass of a word; Let our voice distil hours of melody into a single syllable; let our tongue utter in one letter the essence of the harmony of ages; fro we write of an hour which as far excelleth all other days of our life as gold exceedeth dross.
As the night of Israel’s passover was a night to be remembered, a theme for bards, and an incessant fountain of grateful song, even so is the time of which we now tell, the never-to-be-forgotten hour of our emancipation from guilt, and our justification in Jesus.
Other days have mingled with their fellows till, like coins worn in circulation, their image and superscription are entirely obliterated, but this day remaineth new, fresh, bright, as distinct in all its parts as if it were but yesterday struck from the mint of time.
Memory shall drop from the palsied hand full many a memento which now she cherishes, but she shall never, even when she tottereth to the grave, unbind from her heart the token of the thrice-happy hour of the redemption of our spirit.
The emancipated galley-slave may forget the day which heard his broken fetters rattle on the ground; the pardoned traitor may fail to remember the moment when the axe of the headsman was averted by a pardon; and the long-despairing mariner may not recollect the moment when a friendly hand snatched him from the hungry deep; but O hour of forgiven sin, moment of perfect pardon, our soul shall never forget thee while within her life and being find an immortality!
Each day of life hath had its attendant angel, but on this day, like Jacob at Mahanaim, hosts of angels met us. The sun hath risen every morning, but on that eventful morn he had the light of seven days.
As the days of Heaven upon earth, as the years of immortality, as the ages of glory, as the bliss of Heaven, so were the hours of that thrice-happy day. Rapture divine, and ecstasy inexpressible, filled our soul. Fear, distress, and grief, with all their train of woes, fled hastily away; and in their place joys came without number.
C. H. Spurgeon, Autobiography, The Early Years, Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2005), 79.
He is our God-yet our brother
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Phi 2:5-7)
He is the Father’s choice to be our substitute
For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1Pe 2:6)
He paid our debt to God
…whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (Rom 3:25)
He is God’s delight and satisfaction
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isa 42:1)
He humbled Himself to the point of death on the Cross
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phi 2:8)
He will accept all who come to Him in faith
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (Joh 6:37)
He will heal the broken
“…a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Mat 12:20-21)
He brings justification to the unjust
That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it
was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It
will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our
Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
He is sure of His power
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Mat 28:18)
He is lifted up by the Father
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phi 2:9-11)
He has set up His kingdom
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psa 2:6-12)
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mat 16:17-19)
He will come again as the Righteous Judge
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jud 1:14-15)
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. (Rev 19:11)
If you don’t read the Riddleblog…shame on you! Kim Riddlebarger has some great expositions of Mark, Galatians, and Job. He also offers great insight into the world of theology and culture. But I like mostly because he’s hilarious (pronounced: high-liar-ree-us).
Here it is only Wednesday and he’s already put up two of the funniest posts outside of ‘Purgatoridom‘ that I’ve seen in a while.
Frequent visitors to this site know of my love for books. I love their smell, the way the pages feel, and rustling of their pages. O yeah. I like reading them too.
Which brings up a good question asked by ‘Dinsdale‘ in my last post.
How do you mix in other books? Your other reading? Do you have a plan?-Dinsdale
O. K. So it was three questions, yea, two are the same. I will attempt to answer them now.
How do you mix in other books? Your other reading? I think we need a mixture of old and new authors. I certainly would not want to follow all new authors as many in the church-at-large are fond of doing. The reason for this is very simple. ‘If it’s new, it’s probably not true. If it’s true, it’s probably not new.’ I think we need a mixture of the Church Fathers, Reformers, Puritans, in addition to modern authors, like MacArthur, Piper, and Sproul. But the question really has to do with the ‘how they are mixed’ with Bible Study and not the ‘who’.
Your Bible Study will probably determine what you read to a large extent by virtue of the topics encountered in Scripture. I wouldn’t try to arrange them so much in that way, but read what you are interested in. Chances are, you will be interested in what you are studying. Maybe not. It would be good to read something complimentary, but it isn’t necessary. That’s all I have to say about that, but since I’m writing this post will add some more thoughts on a slightly different note.
Who should I read? I read for enjoyment, primarily. I want to read something that is good literature and interesting.
I will probably be crucified for saying this, but I don’t enjoy reading John Owen. I do like reading Scougal, Bunyan, and Watson. If you are a beginner in Puritan literature, read Bunyan. If you want to read the Church Fathers, start with Irenaus or Polycarp, and move on to Ignatius and then start at the beginning, reading straight through. Take note of the introductory remarks as the editors can tell you exactly how much historical weight and veracity you can place on the writings.
As for the Reformers, Luther’s Sermons and Tabletalk are a good starting point.
In modern Christianity there are several good authors available. Jerry Bridges and C. J. Mahaney are good and interesting authors. R. C. Sproul has a way of bringing high truths down to my level. Piper, MacArthur, and Horton write good books for everyone.
Do you have a plan? Getting back to Dinsdale’s question, I have no plan. However, I do have a goal that I rarely meet. This goal is one suggested to me by my brother; one 100-200 page book a week + one 500 page book a month.
I rarely meet this goal, but it’s a good standard to shoot for. For instance, I’m in my second month on volume 1 of Spurgeon’s Autobiography. I should’ve finished it last month and started volume 2 this month, but things came up, plus it’s too good to just read over.
I usually end up reading one book every two weeks as well.
I would also recommend having certain books on a regular rotation. I read Desiring God (Piper), The Holiness of God (Sproul), and Grace Abounding (Bunyan) each once every year or so.
Finally, don’t be in a hurry to read everything that your favorite author puts out. In other words, keep a good mixture of old and new. Don’t put John Owen or Justin Martyr (two of my least favorite old people) aside once you have started reading them just to get to John Piper (my favorite ‘new’ person) when his newest book comes out. If the book that has just come out is good, it will be around for a while. You never know when you’ve read your last Puritan, though.
My brother, Pastor Steve Weaver, of Pastor Steve Weaver’s Blog, wants to know if any of you yahoos are going to the Together For The Gospel Conference. Brad, are you still going?
Steve Camp, of Camponthis, defends the Bible doctrine of the Active Obedience of Christ.
A friend and fellow church member, D. J. Cimino, has a blog you guys need to read.
Phil Johnson, of Pyro fame, tries to get a friend to guest blog from Pluto or Mars or somewhere.
I have post on books and reading ready to go. I’m just waiting for tomorrow morning. Can we wait that long?
I also deleted the Comments On The Bible Blog. I didn’t have time to keep it up. I will be posting all future Bible commentary here.
Some upcoming topics; repentance, Christ’s death as liberation from sin, Spurgeon quotes, and the long awaited ‘Dispy, Pro Dispy, Cov., and New Cov.’ posts.
Here’s a short list of tips (in no particular order) to enrich your personal Bible study. Of course, as always, pray for the Holy Spirit to teach you as you study.
1. Read through the Bible. The purpose for reading through the Bible is so that you can grasp the overall big picture of divine revelation, so to speak. Use a reading plan. I enjoy using the method Don Whitney has endorsed. “My favorite plan involves reading in five places each day. I begin in Genesis (the Law), Joshua (History), Job (Poetry), Isaiah (the Prophets), and Matthew (the New Testament) and read an equal number of chapters in each section. A variation of this plan is to read in three places daily, starting in Genesis, Job, and Matthew, respectively. The three sections are roughly the same in length, so you will finish them all about the same time.” -Don Whitney (Click here to go to Don Whitney’s Ministry Resources page, then scroll down to the article titled ‘Bible Reading Record’.)
2. Choose your translation to suit your purpose. I read almost exclusively the ESV. Sometimes, however, for simple reading, I will read the NIV. With the NIV you have a thought-for-thought translation that makes it easier to grasp the big ideas in Scripture. For in-depth study, however, you will want to use a word-for-word translation, such as, NKJV, NASB, or, the ESV. The ESV, in my opinion, has the perfect balance of readability and accuracy.
3. Use a variety of translations. One translation may bring out a nuance in the text that is overlooked by another. Add to your Bible study by using a Literal translation, such as Wuest’s or Young’s. (I’m stupid, I had Phillips here before. Thanks Matt Gumm.)
4. Avoid paraphrases. With paraphrases you are going to be influenced by the paraphraser’s biases. Instead, write your own paraphrase. Paraphrasing Scripture, very simply put, is putting Scripture into your own words.
5. I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you have access to a computer. If so, copy a book from the Bible into a Word document. Then go through and remove all chapter and verse divisions. Divide the book then into paragraphs and read straight through. If you are studying a New Testament letter, then you may want to read the letter straight through once a day each weekday. Then, on both Saturday and Sunday, read through the letter five times. Longer books may need to be divided up into sections, if you do not have sufficient time throughout the week.
6. Do your Bible reading in the morning and Bible study at night. As you read in the morning, pick out a phrase that especially strikes you as important or relevant, memorize it or write it down to take with you during the day. You can meditate on the verse and apply it to different situations as they present themselves as the day progresses. You will also have a good starting point for your Bible study that evening.
7. Buy a couple of Commentaries on the book you wish to study. Look for an Expostional Commentary and an Exegetical Commentary. The Expositional Commentary will give a more complete look at the book and how it’s various themes fit together to form one over-arching theme. The Exegetical Commentary will give you technical information such as, word studies, background information, and theological content. If you can only afford one Commentary, get MacArthur’s if available. MacArthur’s commentaries are a good blend of exegesis and exposition. However, they are only available for most of the New Testament at this time.
8. Get a hymnbook. After you finish studying, look for a hymn that you know and that matches the theme of the passage you have just studied. If you can’t find one that you know then read through one. If you know the hymn, sing it quietly (if you’re afraid to let your family know how you sing) to yourself and to God. The hymn will help you remember the truths you have learned and give those truths their highest expression; worship to God.
9. Find how your passage fits into the over-arching theme of redemption in the Bible. Bryan Chappell writes in ‘Christ-Centered Preaching’ that all scripture can be divided into one or more of these four categories:
A. Predictive of Christ (prophetic)
B. Preparatory for Christ (leading and pointing to Christ)
C. Reflective of Christ (the Gospel accounts)
D. Resultant of Christ (our riches in Christ, exhortations to right living, and the Church’s growth)
10. Review constantly. Don’t forget what you have learned. Pray for the Holy Spirit to apply Scripture to your living and your worship. Use it to edify your brothers and sisters in Christ.
When I first began studying the Bible in earnest I was not a very skilled interpreter of Scripture. I’m still not. But there are a few mistakes I have learned from in the method of Biblical Study. Hopefully you can glean a little help from my mistakes.
One of those mistakes is bringing to many presuppositions to the text. To be clear about this, there will always be presuppositions. That is unavoidable. The secret is to allow our presuppositions to be conformed to the text. For instance, suppose I read a passage from the historical narrative of Acts. Acts is a historical document which I believe to be a faithful and true to the events listed therein. Now suppose I read these verses:
But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also. And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches. (Act 15:35-41)
One thing about this passage is that it doesn’t tell us who is right or wrong. It tells us that Barnabas and Paul had a disagreement. Now the person who has been reading Acts and knows that Paul is an Apostle may automatically assume that Barnabas is in the wrong. On the other hand, a skilled interpreter of Scripture may come to the conclusion that Paul was wrong, based on his knowledge of other Scriptures. The truth, however, is that the Bible does not say who is right or who is wrong in this instance. Presupposing that either Barnabas or Paul are wrong in this instance takes our focus off of the point of the text which is that Barnabas and Paul went their separate ways as God was leading each of them to do.
Another mistake in Bible Study is digging to deep. What I mean by this is that a person can immerse himself so deep in the words and what the words by themselves mean that he loses sight of what the passage, which is made up of words, actually says. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a marvelous expository preacher in the sense that he preached verse by verse through the Bible. And be it far from me to criticize someone who has had such an impact on many well-respected Bible teachers in our generation. IL have never heard a sermon by Lloyd-Jones that I did not agree at least ninety-eight percent of the time theologically. But I sometimes wonder if Dr. Lloyd-Jones went to deep to the point of missing the point of the passage.
Another example is a sermon I heard preached on the heart once. I don’t remember the passage or the preacher, but I do remember that he neglected the text in order to explain how the human organ that is called the heart works. I also remember that the passage was not referring to the physical heart, but the seat of emotions. Not only did this preacher miss the point of the passage he was trying to preach, he missed the point of the word that he neglected the passage in order to preach! This is what can happen when we become to involved with word studies. We become so focused on one or two words in the passage that we miss what all the words together are saying.
Word studies are important. But only when they are used to shine light on the whole passage of Scripture we are seeking to understand.
Another mistake to avoid is depreciating the English text. I would venture to say that the English translations that are available today are the some of the most accurate translations in the history of the Western Church. Of course the Greek and Hebrew texts always take precedence over the translations, but there is no need to doubt what the English says clearly and unequivocally. If the verse makes perfect sense to you in its context, leave it alone. It probably means what it says. And the translators know more Greek and Hebrew than most of the rest of us. You may not like what the verse says, but let it say what it says. Confirm what it says by researching it, but do not change it just because it is not palatable to you or your system of theology. Conform yourself and your theology to Scripture.
A fourth mistake is not interpreting Scripture in the light of 2,000 years of church history. In the course of church history, thousands of Bible interpreters have wrestled with the same texts you do. It is never wise to impose your view of the consensus of trusted Bible interpreters throughout the centuries without a very good argument.
There are times that the consensus of church history has been wrong. I am a Baptist. I am Baptist because of theological and scriptural reasons. And by being a Baptist I realize that most of the biblical interpreters from 300 A. D. to 1700 A. D. are opposed to my view of baptism.
I say this to clarify my meaning when I say “It is never wise to impose your view of the consensus of trusted Bible interpreters throughout the centuries without a very good argument.” I have weighed the arguments from both sides and landed squarely on the Baptist side.
Finally, don’t work outside of a proper framework. Dispensationalism, Progressive Dispensationalism, Covenantal Theology, and New Covenant Theology all have their downsides. Even with those downsides your interpretation of Scripture will probably fall into one of those categories. Don’t be bound by the framework you find yourself in, but recognize that these frameworks can help you interpret Scripture. Use them as tools for interpreting Scripture, but don’t bow the knee to them.
Creeds and confessions of faith from history are also helpful for Biblical study. In these we have a good source for finding out what the Church from it’s very beginning has believed. Use the Apostle’s Creed to give you an overview of the message of the New Testament. Use the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds to understand the various Trinitarian patterns found in Scripture.
Most importantly, don’t interpret Scripture outside of the framework of a local church. We are put together in local congregations for many reasons. One reason is so that we may study the Scriptures together as we grow in the faith together. Your Pastors, Sunday School Teachers, and even the janitor can be a source of encouragement and help as you wrestle with God’s Words. And you can help them as well.
Introduction: 485 years ago an Augustinian monk in Germany stumbled onto Romans 1:17. He had read it many times before but this time he finally understood. The just shall live by faith. He underlined the word faith and in the margin of his Bible wrote the famous words that were to be echoed throughout the rest of his life and the centuries after. Those words were ‘Sola Fide’, or faith alone, and the man was Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation. We all owe a debt to this man who not only believed the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, but also preached it faithfully not regarding his own life. We still remember that when asked to deny his faith he would not. ‘Here I stand’, Luther declared. And in God’s providence we stand here because he stood there. But the Christian church at large has strayed from many of the reforms that were sparked by Luther’s discovery of ‘Faith Alone’. As a result wickedness is once again rampant in the church. We also remember Jonathan Edwards. The man who sparked the Great Awakening in our own country 223 years after Luther with the sermon entitled, ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’. In that sermon Edwards preached that God is Holy, Sovereign, and Just. But He also preached in that sermon that the way to escape God’s anger is through faith alone. A great revival swept through the colonies that called the church away from its sin. But now 262 years later we have drifted back to the same worldliness that was in the church in Luther’s day and in Edwards’ day. What does this have to do with Habakkuk? Habakkuk lived in a time like ours. He looked back on the lives of Heroes of the faith. Perhaps he looked back on Josiah the young King who just a few years before had rediscovered the Law and led Israel in a great revival.
I. The Times Of Habakuk
A. The Reforms of King Josiah I Kings 13:1-2, 33-34
1. Removed the Idols and Altars
2. Repaired the Temple
3. Recovered the Law
4. Reinstituted the Passover
B. The drifting of the people of God
1. Replace God
2. Renovate the church
3. Remove the Word of God
4. Repudiate the ordinances instituted by Christ
C. The need for a modern Reformation
1. Return to God
2. Reverence the place of Worship
3. Rediscover God’s Word
4. Regard the ordinances as meaningful
II. The questions of Habakkuk
A. Why Do Good Things Happen To Bad People?
B. Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
C. The relevance of these questions for today. Questions taken from: James Montgomery Boice, The Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), pp. 75-76
1. Questions from the past century
a. Evolution or Creation?
b. Is the Bible the word of God?
2. Modern Personal Questions
a. Who am I?
b. Why am I here?
c. What is the meaning of life?
3. Modern Historical Questions
a. What is History?
b. What is God’s involvement in history?
c. Why is there evil in history?
d. Why doesn’t God do something about wickedness?
e. How can I believe in a loving, personal God when He allows bad things to happen to me?
III. The praises of Habakkuk
A. God is Holy
B. God is Sovereign
C. God is Just
D. God is Gracious to those who trust in Him
Conclusion: The times of Habakkuk are remarkably similar to the times we live in. We both remember the reforms of our ancestors. We both live in societies that seem to have forgotten those reforms. We both ask the questions, ‘Why do the wicked prosper?’, and ‘Why do God’s people suffer?’ But we also have the same God who is Holy, sovereign, just, and gracious. We both have the same Gospel, ‘The just shall live by faith alone.’ To God alone be the glory. Amen.