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Christ in All of Scripture – Mark 2:16-17



Mark 2:16-17

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.””

Jesus boldly challenges the cultural and religious convention of his day by intentionally associating with despised tax collectors and outcasts (“sinners”). In this way Jesus brings to fulfillment the Old Testament hopes that God would one day heal the broken and forgive the sinful among his people (Isa. 61:1–2; Joel 2:26–29).

God’s pursuit of his people is not based on merit. It is based on our need and is grace-driven.  Jesus’ entire mission proceeds on this foundation. It assumes that human beings are not capable of restoring their broken relationship with God, including the destructive personal and communal consequences of sinfully striving to live independently of God.

Discipleship means becoming Christlike through ongoing dependence on him. This dependence involves more than just imitating Christ’s actions. It means trusting in his forgiveness and letting the impact of that forgiveness and loving commitment to us blossom and bear fruit. Changed hearts result in changed lives. Christ’s example serves as a guidepost to his followers for the paths we should walk in this changed life. This desire to follow Christ arises in part from the realization that a person reconciled with God is, and remains, a recipient of undeserved grace.

True followers of Christ are called to reflect Christ’s compassion and holiness to other human beings , irrespective of their race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other mark of distinction. For Christ has shown such grace to us.

This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.


February 17, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Biblical Studies,ESV,Gospel Transformation Bible,GTB,Life & Doctrine,New Testament,The Bible | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 10:30 am | 0 Comments »

Christ in All of Scripture – Genesis 50:18-20



Genesis 50:18-20

“His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

When he first revealed himself to his brothers, Joseph said three times that it was most ultimately God who had sent him on to Egypt, not his brothers (Gen. 45:5-8). Now Joseph returns to this truth and articulates explicitly what has been implicit all through the Joseph narrative and indeed all through Genesis: all things, including the evil actions of godless men, are under the wise, governing hand of a gracious God  who intends final good for his people (Gen.50:20).

The historical climax of this profound truth is the cross of Christ—here, if anywhere, is an act of evil: the crucifixion of the one person who ever lived a life undeserving of punishment of any kind. Yet even this, the book of Acts tells us, was under God’s good hand. Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23; cf. Acts 4:27-28). This does not exonerate the wicked actions that carry out such evil, but it does give us the broadest vision for what is happening at any given point of history, even when evil seems to triumph most horrifically. God is there. He is with his people. He is working out his redemptive purposes.

In these closing words of Joseph and of Genesis, we are reminded once more of the heart of the gospel. Responding to his brothers’ fear that Joseph will punish them now that their father Jacob has died, Joseph responds, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (Gen. 50:19). The answer to that question had to be no, for Joseph knew that he, a man, could not rule or judge in the place of God. To seek to do so remains the supreme folly. We dare not seek to share in judgment that belongs only to a holy God. Yet at the culmination of redemptive history God became a man and put himself under judgment in the place of sinful man. This is supreme mercy. He dared to share in what only, to that point, had belonged to sinful man—yet he did so without sinning—to provide everlasting good from what we humans intended for evil.

This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.


February 10, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Biblical Studies,ESV,ESVBible.org,Gospel Transformation Bible,GTB,Life & Doctrine,Old Testament | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:15 am | 0 Comments »

Bible Q&A – What Is Hermeneutics?

In this series, Dr. Dane Ortlund, Senior Vice President for Bible Publishing at Crossway, answers readers’ questions about the Bible. If you have a question to submit for next time, simply leave it as a comment at the bottom of this post.

Q: What is hermeneutics and why is it important?

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).

How do you interpret that sentence? The answer reveals your hermeneutic.

What’s Your Lens?

Think optometry. Hermeneutics is the pair of glasses. It’s what you wear when you interpret something. The lens. Not what you look at but what you look with. Hermeneutics is the art of interpretation.  It is taking a text and asking—what does this mean? Specifically, how am I as a contemporary person, hundreds of years removed from this utterance, supposed to read this ancient text? What is the bridge between that world and mine?

That’s what it is. Why does it matter? Because you need your glasses to be the right prescription. The wrong lens skews reality.

So take Jeremiah 29:11, probably written in calligraphy somewhere in your kitchen. What does it mean? How would you put it in your own words, for today?

Here are two quite different readings. Some might interpret this promise as only for the original hearers. God has a good plan for ethnic Israel. After all, he was talking to the nation of Israel, not modern Westerners, in this statement. Others might interpret it without any awareness of the original context. God has a good plan for me, Dane Ortlund, in the 21st century. Israel who?

Guidance for Grinding Your Lens

Neither is really a wise hermeneutical approach. Why? Here are a few basic guidelines that inform the lens with which we should read any Bible text.

  1. Read with the assumption that Scripture is coherent. God doesn’t lie (Num. 23:19), knows all things (Isa. 46:10), and is unerringly consistent (Heb. 13:8). I speak untruths, know less than all things, and am inconsistent. Conclusion: If I find something in the Bible that is difficult to understand or seemingly contradictory, I assume there is something defective in me, not the Bible.
  2. Read any given text with an awareness of where it fits in the story. You wouldn’t plunk down in the middle of a novel and expect to understand a sentence without awareness of what’s happened before and interest in what will happen after. So why would we do that with the Bible?
  3. Read the way Jesus did. He said the whole Old Testament is about him (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 46). And the New Testament is obviously about him (the Gospels biographically, the epistles theologically). So the whole Bible is about him. The climax of the redemptive-historical story is Jesus  (Gal. 4:4).
  4. Read with a prayer for the Spirit to illumine the text. Paul tells us that believers have been given the Spirit “that we might understand” divine truth (1 Cor. 2:12). Reading the Bible without the Spirit is like stumbling around an art exhibit with the lights off. There’s beauty there, but it can’t be seen and felt.

So: read humbly, redemptive-historically, Christocentrically, and Spiritually. Grind your lens in those four ways.

Reading an Ancient Promise Wisely

What then of Jeremiah 29:11?

We read it humbly, knowing Scripture is coherent. So even if God gave this particular promise to ancient Israel (his people then) we know that he will act in the same benevolent way toward Christians today (his people now). We see the heart of God in this statement—a heart that delights in prospering, not punishing, his fickle people. That was his heart for them. That is his heart for me.

We read it redemptive-historically. We remember Eden, the fall into sin, the calling of Abraham, and so on down through the centuries. So we consider that earlier in the story God had always been seeking to bless his people but that they have persistently rebelled. And we remember that later in the story God will one day come back down to earth and really give them “welfare” and “a future” in the new earth—only then God’s people will be from every tribe and nation and people, not just from ethnic Israel. Jeremiah 29 is part of a Story into which I have been swept up.

We read it Christocentrically. Jeremiah 29:11 is ultimately about Jesus. He himself said that “everything written about me in . . . the prophets . . . must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). So we remember that the supreme “plans for you” God had in mind was Jesus. God promised welfare not evil for his people because his Son bore evil though he deserved welfare. And we are united to Christ in his death and resurrection—what God calls “a hope” in Jeremiah 29 is “a living hope” because of Jesus by the time Peter was writing (1 Pet. 1:3).

We read it Spiritually. We ask for the Holy Spirit’s illumination, because otherwise the beauty of this promise will not be truly seen and felt.

Everything Is at Stake

What is hermeneutics and why is it important? It is reading the Bible rightly, so that we see who God is and become human again.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).

Dane C. Ortlund (PhD, Wheaton College) is Senior Vice President for Bible Publishing at Crossway. He is the author of several books, including Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (August 2014), and serves as an editor for the Knowing the Bible study series. He lives with his wife, Stacey, and their four kids in Wheaton.

Do you have a question about the Bible? Leave it as a comment and we’ll try to answer it in a future post!



Introducing the ESV Economy New Testament

Published in 2010, the ESV Economy Bible has quickly become one of Crossway’s bestselling Bibles, due to its affordable price and suitability for outreach. We’re now pleased to introduce the  ESV Economy New Testament, designed to serve churches, ministries, and other groups looking for an affordable way to share God’s Word with others.

The Economy New Testament combines the benefits of a pocket edition with a type size that is easy to read. It also features a 30-day reading plan and explanation of the plan of salvation.

ESV Economy New Testament Overview from Crossway on Vimeo.

Download a PDF sampler of the interior

We pray the Lord uses the ESV Economy New Testament to bring many readers to salvation!



January 30, 2014 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,ESV,News & Announcements,Publishing,The Bible,Video | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 8:49 am | 0 Comments »

ESV Study Bible Giveaway

We’re hosting a giveaway right now on ESV Bible’s Facebook page!

To say ‘thank you’ for your support of the ESV Study Bible, share the post from our Facebook page and be automatically entered to win 1 of 5 premium calfskin leather ESV Study Bibles! The giveaway runs through Sunday, January 19th. Winners will be notified on Tuesday, January 21.

Remember, the only way to enter the giveaway is by sharing ESV Bible’s Facebook post!

January 17, 2014 | Posted in: ESV,Giveaways,Study Bibles | Author: Lizzy Jeffers @ 10:45 am | 1 Comment »