John Calvin, Commentary on Mattthew, Mark and Luke (Vol.1), Mat. 8:19-22

Whence arose the great readiness of the scribe to prepare himself immediately to accompany Christ, but from his not having at all considered the hard and wretched condition of his followers? We must bear in mind that he was a scribe, who had been accustomed to a quiet and easy life, had enjoyed honor, and was ill-fitted to endure reproaches, poverty, persecutions, and the cross. He wishes indeed to follow Christ, but dreams of an easy and agreeable life, and of dwellings filled with every convenience; whereas the disciples of Christ must walk among thorns, and march to the cross amidst uninterrupted afflictions. The more eager he is, the less he is prepared. He seems as if he wished to fight in the shade and at ease, neither annoyed by sweat nor by dust, and beyond the reach of the weapons of war. There is no reason to wonder that Christ rejects such persons: for, as they rush on without consideration, they are distressed by the first uneasiness of any kind that occurs, lose courage at the first attack, give way, and basely desert their post. Besides, this scribe might have sought a place in the family of Christ, in order to live at his table without expense, and to feed luxuriously without toil. Let us therefore look upon ourselves as warned, in his person, not to boast lightly and at ease, that we will be the disciples of Christ, while we are taking no thought of the cross, or of afflictions; but, on the contrary, to consider early what sort of condition awaits us. The first lesson which he gives us, on entering his school, is to deny ourselves, and take up his cross, (Matthew 16:24.)

Unfair eschatology

Simplifications are necessary, but sometimes unfair. A couple of simplifications in the area of eschatology have started to annoy me more and more:

1. Dismissing all premillenialism as pre-tribulational premill

It's not fair to oversimplify all premills as people who believe in literal fulfillment of promises regarding Israel, a rapture and so on. It's unfair on early church writers, it's unfair on many modern-day Christians.

Go ye to wikipedia and learn the important difference between pretrib premills (the rapture gang) and posttrib premills: millenial views diagram.

2. Dismissing all believe in a personal antichrist as premill

In certain amillenialist circles, the belief in a personal antichrist and a final tribulation is also lumped in, along with the rapture and the literal reestablishment of Israel with premillenialism. Not fair.

Some amills interpret the antichrist passages symbolically (somewhat difficult when it comes to 2Thess 2, but they do). But some amills believe both that we are in the 1000 years now, where there are many antichrists and ongoing tribulation and yet there will also be a personal antichrist and final tribulation.

Volume 9 Number 6

Some interesting bits from Leroy Eims' groovy little book 'The Lost Art of Disciple Making':

  1. I was in the middle of an organse farm, but the diner couldn't make me organge juice because their juicer was broken. Their problem wasn't lack of juice. It was over-dependence on a machine. In the same way many Christians rely too much on the Sunday sermon. They may be surrounded by Bibles, but don't know how to get sustenance out of them. they are like babies in a pantry of canned goods.
  2. Is the reason for the 'socialism' at the end of Acts 2 because the disciples had decided to stay on longer than anticipated in Jerusalem because of they were converted and wanted to be discipled?
  3. Is the reason that only the apostles stayed in Jerusalem after the persecution of Acts 8, becuase they enjoyed the asylum of Gamaliel?
  4. Would you rather have 100 people in your church who are 90% committed or 10 people who are 100% committed?
  5. Steps in discipleship: a) Motivation to grow b) Growth in personal devotion c) Willingness to witness.

Volume 9 Number 5

Sorry for long delay between posts. I have been holidaying and being busy with things and begetting a little daughter (Esther Kate) and other lam excuses...

I heard a cool startegy for small group Bible study writing just recently. It's a compromise between the convenience of using pre-written Bible studies and writing your own.

Whoever is in charge of writing Bible studies doesn not prepare a complete Bible study package. Rather, they prepare at most one double-sided A4 page of notes on the passage including exegesis, key turning points, suggestions for leading, ideas for application.

This then leaves it up to the individual study leader to decide what to do with this. They could use these notes to help them as they lead a loose discussion. they could use these note to write a Bible study. Overall it is more 'manpower' (since each leader has to develop this page of notes in some way). However it is less time investment for the Bible study write.

Moreover, it has three advantages. First of all, it may promote a slightly higher rate of study leader preparation. After all, even with pre-written studies, the study leader is meant to spend time preparating. Perhaps it actually reduces overall work time?

Secondly, it is teaching the study leader how to think through the study leading process much more thoroughly, therefore it is training them more.

Thirdly, it prevents leaders from assuming that the entire goal of study leading is to answer the questions on the page or criticising the wording and clarity of the questions.