For a limited time, everyone in the Logos Bible Software Faithlife group can access Rick Brannan’s Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide Through Advent.
For a limited time, everyone in the Logos Bible Software Faithlife group can access Rick Brannan’s Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide Through Advent.
When you’re reading Scripture, sometimes you want a clean, undistracted look at God’s Word.
Other times, you need to go a level deeper: glance at a commentary, do a word study, compare biblical passages, or even dig into the Greek or Hebrew.
Now you can do either—or both—right on your phone or tablet.
Introducing the newest version of the Faithlife Study Bible app. It’s been completely refreshed to make it simple to go as deep as you want, whenever you want.
Whether you need to answer a question on the fly during small group or are squeezing in some personal study on your lunch break, the intuitive new interface makes switching between distraction-free Bible reading and in-depth Bible study faster and easier than ever.
Here’s what’s new. [Read more…]
For a limited time, everyone in the Logos Bible Software Faithlife group can get a free copy of Rick Brannan’s Anticipating His Arrival: A Family Guide Through Advent.
Just follow the Logos Bible Software Faithlife group to get full access to the book through December 31. When you click “Follow,” the book will be automatically added to your library.
And if you’d like to read along with the group, just join the reading plan that appears in the feed right after you begin following.
This devotional provides daily Scripture readings along with discussion questions—and answers. This is key: many Christian parents who have run family devotions know the experience of dutifully asking prescribed questions in a devotional but not quite knowing what the author was getting at. Brannan leads the reader along.
The readings in Anticipating His Arrival are brief, manageable for busy families. Rick tells a few relatable stories—like the time his family anticipated his own father’s arrival back from a military deployment—but he keeps the focus on the Bible, reading it and then understanding it.
Through the month of December, get access to this insightful advent resource for free! Just visit the Logos Bible Software Faithlife group and select “Follow.”
Calvinism has made a comeback in recent decades. In fact, in certain church circles it’s become the new cool.
Calvinist, the much-anticipated documentary from Les Lanphere (whose Kickstarter for the film met its goal in three days and surpassed it by more than double), tells the remarkable story of how this came to be.
Mixing live interviews and animation, Calvinist describes how changes in American Christianity over the past several decades set the stage for Calvinism to find new roots. Featuring R.C. Sproul, Paul Washer, Shai Linne, Tim Challies, and other Christian leaders and teachers, it explains what Calvinists believe, why it matters, and where the movement is going.
Buy Calvinist now for unlimited streaming on Faithlife TV. Faithlife TV is free for anyone, and Calvinist is just $19.95.
Calvinist is perfect for individual viewing or small group discussion, since it digs into the nature of salvation and our role in it. Not everyone may agree, but everyone will be challenged to think and dig deeper for answers in Scripture.
However you watch it, Calvinist is sure to captivate you and make you look with fresh eyes at Calvin’s 500-year-old legacy.
Do a quick Google image search of “Nativity scenes.” Really, go search and scroll for a bit and come back. Did you notice anything? At least half of them show an angel or more present at the manger.
The only problem: Scripture doesn’t report any angels.
Obviously, nativity scenes are artistic renderings of the biblical event as a whole. Since angels are an integral part of the story, it’s fitting that they show up. They provide texture to the scene, indicating a divine moment (which Jesus’ birth certainly was).
But every year we retell the Christmas story—through decorations, carols, plays—and how we repeat the story is how we remember it. And how we remember it is how we believe it.
So are we believing the biblical story?
Here are four trivia questions that will reveal how closely your understanding of the Christmas story matches the biblical account.
If you thought, “Sang” (like I did), you may be more influenced by Handel’s Messiah than by Luke 2:13. It simply says the angels were praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
In Revelation, John does describe choirs of angels (e.g. Rev. 5:9–10), so there is certainly biblical support for singing angels. However, we have no reason to believe they are singing here. So how does this fact help us imagine the biblical scene?
Scripture says “a multitude of angels” called out the declaration, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” Just imagine the noise of so many voices calling out—shouting, perhaps—in unison. The words go out like an announcement over a loudspeaker, an announcement for the whole world: Glory to God, and on earth peace . . .
Until this moment I had never paused to consider what that might sound like. I cannot comprehend how powerful that moment must have been.
If you thought some sort of combination of “star” and “a child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger,” you’re half right (and so was I). The shepherds didn’t follow a star—that was a sign for the wise men.
Instead, an angel appeared to the shepherds saying, “. . . born unto you this day in the city of David is a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” As a Jew, that is a packed statement. City of David, Savior, Christ, Lord—it all amounts to, “The centuries-long hope of your people has just arrived.” And he’s in a feeding trough.
The juxtaposition is striking. Salvation has just been sent from on high, and you’ll know it’s him because he’ll be in a lowly manger. The shepherds are the first of many in the Gospels to experience the many wonderful paradoxes concerning Jesus. A servant King? A humble Lord? Who is this Savior? Between a multitude of angels and a poor child in a manger we have a paradigm for understanding the surprising nature of Christ our Lord.
Scripture does not include these details, although it’s reasonable to expect that animals would be nearby, since a manger is a feeding trough. Many nativity scenes include lambs, bulls, and donkeys—and probably not by happenstance. Each animal is featured prominently in Scripture. Lambs and bulls were used for sacrifices, and Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (as predicted). In that way, nativity builders are thoughtfully hinting at the trajectory of Jesus’ life.
That Jesus was laid in a manger is significant on its own. What kind of child is laid in a manger upon his birth? One who is “deprived of normal comfort,” says I. Howard Marshall. “The point is [ . . .] that at his birth Jesus had to be content with the habitation of animals because there was no room for him in human society” (see Luke 9:58). Jesus was, strictly speaking, not born among men. In the very earliest moments of his life, the King of Kings lay helpless among animals. He was, in short, an outcast—the infant who would grow to be a “man of sorrows rejected by men (cf. Isaiah 53:1–3).”
If you guessed “At birth,” guess again. In many cultures and societies, children receive their name immediately at birth. However, in Jewish tradition, boys are given their names at the same time as their circumcision, on the eighth day (Lev. 12:8). This is probably patterned after Abram receiving the name Abraham upon his circumcision, because he was to be “the father of many nations” (Gen. 17:5).
Luke explicitly mentions Jesus’ circumcision and naming, and for good reason. It establishes Jesus as a true Jew, which would have been especially important for the first readers of Luke. It also links Jesus to Abraham. Jesus fulfills God’s promises to Abraham. God promises to Abraham that (among other things) all nations will be blessed through him. Here we see Jesus in the line of Abraham (see Matt. 1:1–17) proclaimed by angels to be a blessing to the world, a theme that Luke will go on to build in his gospel and Acts.
Jesus’ name, Ἰησοῦς in Greek and yēs̆ûaʿ in Hebrew, means “Yahweh saves.” The fact that Luke intentionally frames Jesus’ birth story with details about his name (Luke 1:31; 2:21) suggests that the birth story is not about every little detail, but about one big message: Yahweh saves.
It’s a familiar story, and we think we know it. But a second look helps us see profound truths, truths hidden behind details we often skip over or get wrong. This Christmas, let’s take a closer look at the old story. May we all approach it with new attention to discover new wonders.
Bible trivia is a lot of fun, but it can do so much more than that: it can help us take a closer look at our Bibles. Check out Proclaim’s Bible Trivia feature for free. It’s great for pre-service slides, youth group games, or displaying on a TV or computer throughout the day. Check it out now with a free trial of Proclaim.
With Christmas coming up, it’s a great time to gather as a family and enjoy some movies.
But, if you’re anything like me, sometimes you feel a little guilty for just watching movies all day.
That’s where documentaries come in handy. They’re a great way to learn together as a family while still vegging out and cozying up. It could even become a family tradition.
In the spirit of Christmas, Faithlife TV is offering a free 30-day trial, which means you can stream dozens of Christian movies and documentaries to your heart’s delight.
Here are some highlights from the collection. [Read more…]
It’s that time of year when churches kick things up a notch.
We’re celebrating God’s greatest act of mercy: sending his Son to redeem the world.
And since a multitude of angels sang at his appearing, it’s right that churches celebrate with at least a little extravagance. Plus, with an uptick in visitors, it’s an excellent season for outreach.
That said, celebrating Christmas doesn’t have to drain the bank (or calendar). [Read more…]
Have you ever known anyone with a one-track mind? An obsession? A laser-focus on their goal? Such a man was English Reformer William Tyndale. Like the apostle Paul who said, “This one thing I do,” Tyndale was marked by a single-minded dedication. C. S. Lewis wrote that Tyndale’s “message is always the same,” like a man in war “sending the same message often” in hopes that it will get through (English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, 182). Tyndale was a broken record and could not shut up about his life’s passion: a vernacular Bible for the masses in England.
Born around 1494 in Gloucestershire, William Tyndale studied in England at Oxford, earning a B.A. in 1512 and an M.A. in 1515. He then went to Cambridge, where he was influenced by Dutch humanist and linguist Desiderius Erasmus, who helped make the Greek New Testament widely accessible via print in 1516. Tyndale’s linguistic acumen was evident in his fluency in seven languages. His academic training prepared his mind for his future passion.
While Tyndale’s studies prepared his mind, the gospel evidently prepared his heart. He likely met with others in the White Horse Inn, where his heart was likely shaped by the gospel in the discussions of the Bible and Reformation theology. While we do not have specific documentation for Tyndale’s conversion to Christ, at some point he came to faith and developed the desire to spread the gospel among his native people by giving them the Bible in their language.
In Tyndale’s day, both church and state outlawed the publication or possession of any portion of Scripture in English. In the late 14th century, John Wycliffe and his followers had translated the Bible from Latin to English, but the following decades saw prohibition rather than adoption of an English Bible. One produced, owned, or taught the Bible in the vernacular of England at one’s own peril. Punishments up to the death penalty were carried out for such crimes. Without a legal English Bible, the common person could not be expected to read the Bible, but even the clergy could not be counted upon to know and teach it faithfully even from the official church Latin. Tyndale quickly developed and articulated his life’s passion: to make the Scriptures known to even the least in England.
Tyndale’s academic training led to a job tutoring a wealthy family, the Walshes, who enjoyed hosting visitors. On one occasion in the early 1520s, the table guests discussed the vernacular translation of the Bible. John Foxe records the comments of a priest, that “We were better to be without God’s law than the pope’s.” Tyndale could not be silent. He replied with vigor: “I defy the pope and all his laws, and if God spare my life ere many years, I shall cause the boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost.” His one-track mind became focused on translating the Bible into English and using the technology of the printing press to distribute the Word of God to the masses.
Tyndale’s passion moved him to action. There was a loophole for English translations, provided one received official church authorization, which he sought in 1524 from Cuthbert Tunstall, bishop of London. Erasmus had supported the concept of vernacular translations, and since he had influenced Tunstall, the bishop seemed like a good candidate for a supporting Tyndale’s ambition. Despite Tyndale’s ability, Tunstall refused to approve an English New Testament. Such work was not welcome in England. But Tyndale had other options.
Germany proved to be fertile ground for publishing an English Bible. Tyndale found suitable locations for his translation work and printers with resources and willingness to bring his project to fruition. But his work was not without obstacles and detours.
His first complete New Testament was delayed due to a raid on the print shop. After it was printed in Worms in 1526 and began appearing in England, Bishop Tunstall bought copies and had them burned in 1527. His purchase, however, helped finance a revision. Tyndale managed to learn the Hebrew language and also began an Old Testament translation. Despite losing two years of work in a shipwreck in 1529, he persevered and, to our knowledge, only completed Genesis through 2 Chronicles, plus Jonah.
Throughout his labors, Tyndale lived as a fugitive. In 1531, King Henry VIII sent Stephen Vaughan to persuade Tyndale to return to England. Vaughan wrote of the fugitive, “I find him always singing one note.” Tyndale would only return on the condition that the king authorize someone to produce an English Bible. Tyndale remained away from his homeland and was eventually befriended and betrayed in 1535 by Henry Phillips, a desperate man hired by the English church to sniff out the dangerous man with a one-track mind.
Phillips’ betrayal led to imprisonment, from which we have the only surviving handwriting of Tyndale. In it, the single-minded prisoner requested items such as clothing and a lamp but more than anything desired a Hebrew Bible, Hebrew grammar, and a Hebrew lexicon so that he could continue his work of translation. In this instance, Tyndale again paralleled the apostle Paul in his final imprisonment, when the great missionary desired clothing and books, but especially the parchments (2 Tim 4:13).
Tyndale’s labors ended on October 6, 1536, when he was taken from Vilvorde Castle near Antwerp, Belgium, to be executed. He was defrocked as a priest, choked to death, and burned. His last recorded words were “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes!”
Once Tyndale became fixated on producing an English Bible, that passion marked him till his death. But his dream did not die. Within three years, his final prayer was answered, when the crown commissioned Tyndale’s associate, Miles Coverdale, to produce the first authorized English Bible. For the first time, Old and New Testaments were legally available to the English people. A steady stream of English Bibles appeared in the following decades, with Tyndale as their backbone, particularly for the New Testament. The famous 1611 Authorized Version, or King James Version, retained between 80-90 percent of Tyndale’s wording for the New Testament. Tyndale shaped the English language with an influence felt today, including in the flood of modern English Bible translations. Here is a sampling:
Tyndale’s legacy continues beyond the actual verbiage in our English Bibles. It lives on when we read and share the Bible. It lives on when we diligently study the biblical languages and target languages to be able to better communicate Scripture in the vernacular with accuracy. It lives on when we produce technology to help spread the Word. It lives on when we provide assistance to those who are multiplying access to the Word.
In his note “To the Reader” in his 1526 New Testament, Tyndale wrote,
Give diligence dear reader (I exhort thee) that thou come with a pure mind and as the Scripture saith with a single eye unto words of help and eternal life: by the which (if we repent and believe them) we are born anew, created afresh, and enjoy the fruits of the love of Christ.
May God grant that we have this one-track mind, and make full use of the wonderful intersection of godly passion, learning, and technology to know and make His truth known.
Doug Smith is a current Th.M. student and a graduate of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div., 2016). He teaches at Cornerstone Christian Academy (Abingdon, VA), Graham Bible College (Bristol, TN), and directs the Cumberland Area Pulpit Supply (capsministry.com), a ministry to train and deploy preachers. He and his wife Krystal are members of Fellowship Chapel (Bristol, VA) and are blessed with five children.
Since A.D. 300, scholars, scribes, and translators have been striving to make Scripture more accessible. Explore this illuminating timeline to discover how the preservation and publication of Scripture made the Reformation possible.