Teaching Students to Think Biblically

This semester I’ll be doing more than teaching Greek. My goal is to train my students to think biblically — and to think on their own. All too often we take an a priori approach to the New Testament in our study of soteriology, ecclesiology, etc. The result is that the biblical text is sometimes overlooked and its concepts blurred. In the spirit of Paul (“you’re doing well but you can always do better”) I hope to explore with my students the underlying presuppositions that are of paramount importance in biblical exegesis. For example, a cardinal question concerns ordination. In the New Testament, the church was a brotherhood of believers. But by the third century all this had changed. The charismatic ministry began to give way to a hierarchical and institutional church. In the New Testament, no ministerial “office” (the word is never used for positions of leadership) implies status or position in the secular sense; the influence of leaders is always measured by their Christ-likeness and the degree to which the Holy Spirit is active in their lives. The Spirit gave them the gifts and abilities needed to serve the Body at large and to represent their collective concerns. But a two-tiered clergy-laity division never existed. Leaders were extensions of the Body, not a special class set over it. But the bottom line is this (and this is a point that is often overlooked): The essence of any church ministry is that of service in the spirit and pattern of the Lord Jesus. If a church — any church — loses that sense of Christ-ministry is ceases to be the church and becomes secular, basing its methods on the kingdom of this world.

Another glorious yet often overlooked truth is that the church is, essentially, a mission body. It is a mission body before it is anything else. Therefore, in order to fulfill its world-wide mission as commanded by Jesus, its structure must be a mission structure. There is no possible logical reason for a church to have within it a separate “missions committee,” just as a seminary that calls itself a “Great Commission” seminary would do well to rethink its philosophy of having a separate missions and evangelism department. When it is understood that every believer is a fulltime missionary and that every believer is necessary within the church’s life and witness, churches will be revolutionized to become what they are in essence: a witnessing community. They will no longer seek after the “world-wise” wisdom of this age that focuses on “relevance” to the exclusion of the Good News of the kingdom. The Head of the church wills the growth of His church, but when the whole church ceases to perform its function and assigns the roles of “missionary” or “evangelist” to certain specially “called” individuals, something fundamental is lost.

Thus, in teaching Greek, I am concerned basically for the renewal and growth of not only my church but all evangelical churches in these exciting days. My goal is to see every one of my students realizing their full, God-intended potential in the kingdom, even if they never enter so-called “fulltime Christian ministry.” The God who speaks to us in the pages of the New Testament must be given full reign. Revelation must no longer be understood as dogma so much as divine action. We must move from an emphasis on the concept of Christologos to that of Christophoros — from being Christ-talkers to Christ-bearers. I greatly appreciate the effort my students put into learning the Greek language, but all will be for nothing unless they take this next step.

(From Dave Black Online, used by permission.  Dr. David Alan Black is author of The Jesus Paradigm.)

What Am I Doing to Serve Him?


The great soccer coach Bill Shankly once denied that soccer was a matter of life and death. “It’s much more than that, ” he said.

One of the ways I’ve changed the most in the past several years has been in my attitude toward sports. Once an avid basketball player and a huge Rams and Lakers fan, now I find that I have no interest whatsoever in professional sports. I couldn’t tell you who is playing in the Super Bowl this year if my life depended upon it. Honestly.

Continue reading What Am I Doing to Serve Him?

Gifts and Ministry

From Dave Black Online:

Brother Jason’s message today from Acts 4-5 was a wonderful reminder to me that the church needs to be generous at all times, not just when disaster strikes. What an encouragement — and warning! — this passage must have been to the early church, and what a strong exhortation it could bring to many in our own day. Our American churchianity often puts our needs and comforts above those of others. Our culture is smug and self-centered. Jesus insisted that His followers care for the vulnerable. That, after all, is how He lived.As Jason was speaking, my mind wandered (sorry, Jason!) to another passage that speaks about generosity, namely James 1:17. In church I happened to have the NET Bible with me (along with my Latin and Greek, of course), and I was delighted to see how Dan Wallace & Co. had rendered this verse: “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above….” Fantastic! This verse contains a great but often overlooked truth: Not only do our gifts ultimately come from God Himself, but even our desire to give — our propensity to be generous, if you will — is the product of God’s grace at work in our lives. This truth is masked, of course, in the NIV’s rendering, “Every good and perfect gift is from above….” What a horrible conflation of the two different Greek words here for “gift.” (The NIV, to be acceptable here, simply needed to add a note giving the literal. Sadly, it often fails to do that.)

All of which means that I can take no credit either for what I give or for the desire to give it!

Dave Black is the author of The Jesus Paradigm and Christian Archy from Energion Publications as well as numerous other books.  This extract is used with his kind permission.