Paul's Principles of Intercessory Prayer, Part I


In the introduction to this series, we mentioned that so often our prayers are for the outer person, rather than the inner person. Our introduction stated:

We generally pray for the needs of the outer person such as control of specific behaviors, employment needs, physical healing, financial needs, just to name a few. These are legitimate needs and indeed warrant prayer. Jesus even included this petition in His Model Prayer which He gave us in Matthew 6: “Give us this day our daily bread.” The problem is, however, that these outer needs are almost invariably the substance of our intercessory requests.

If we are to take seriously our roles as reconcilers and restorers of relationships between God and man and woman and of one another, it is the inner person or persons that should be the primary focus of our prayers. The inner person indeed was the primary purpose of Paul’s intercessory prayers.

The Gospel and the Law, Part 2


In the previous article, we looked at the relationship between the Law and the Gospel. The article explained that theologians have identified three facets of the Law of Moses: the moral law, the civil law, and the ceremonial law. The moral law is the only one that remains in force, as is shown by the words of Jesus himself as well as those of the other New Testament authors. To continue our exploration of the relationship of the moral law and the Gospel, we turn now to the Jesus’ teaching of His disciples at the Last Supper and His inauguration of the New Covenant.

The Gospel and the Law


In discussions of so-called “same sex marriage,” Christians are frequently accused of hypocrisy for taking the passages in the Law of Moses dealing with homosexual behavior literally but ignoring for example those concerning eating shellfish or wearing clothing made of two different kinds of fiber.

The accusation might bear some weight if the decision about which provisions of the Law to accept were arbitrary. But it isn’t; it is made on the basis of centuries of study, analysis, and reflection by theologians on the Law and its relationship to the Gospel. Understanding why Christians see some laws as binding but not others is important not only for issues such as homosexuality but also for developing a deeper appreciation for the Law and its importance for the Christian life.

The True Lord’s Prayer, Part IV


The first installment in this series described how the true Lord’s Prayer is recorded in John 17 which is often called Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. The prayer we call the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6 is really a model prayer given to us, not one that Jesus would pray. In John 17, which Jesus did actually pray, He structures His prayer in John 17 around three sections: (1) the first section in which Jesus prays for Himself—17:1-5; (2) the second section in which Jesus prays for His soon-to-be apostles, or “sent ones”—17:6-19; (3) the third section in which Jesus prays for us and for all of His future disciples—17:20-26.

Learning from African Christianity: Am I My Brother's Keeper?

The October 2014 issue of Christianity Today reports on a new study that polled 8,000 African Christians across their continent as to whom they were reading. The disturbing findings suggest that few if any Africans are reading books by African Christians, but instead read “foreign” authors such as John Maxwell, Billy Graham, Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren, and John Stott. And if that is the case for Africans, it is all the more likely for most Christians in North America. Most of us cannot even name one African Christian author. Yet African Christianity is brimming with vibrancy. Is there another way we can learn from these, our brothers and sisters?

The Lord’s Prayer of John 17 Part 3: The World


Three Uses of “World”
One of the principles of serious Bible study that Robert A. Traina describes in Methodical Bible Study is the principle of repetition, or how often a term, phrase, or clause (among others) might appear in a given text. Repetition is one of the tools that helps us determine the meaning of a given text.  In the true Lord’s Prayer of John 17, one word which Jesus repeats frequently is the word “world” which appears 18 times in 13 verses out of a total of 26 verses. The preface that Jesus uses for His specific section in which Jesus prays for His disciples reads, “I am not praying for the world.” Instead , He is praying “for those whom you [the Father] have given me.”

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