PRAY FOR PHILIPPINES
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, we must remember God’s truth and then act on God’s heart. Believers are called to pray and share the heart of God for people in need.
Suffering is not greater than God or His believers
Psalm 112:1, 6-8 “Praise the Lord… For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bade news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.”
Psalm 135:6-7 “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightning’s for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.”
ð Praise that we know God is trustworthy, even when we cannot see the meaning in trials or suffering.
ð Pray that people will not lose hope in God
ð Pray for people to see truth and love in action through believers meeting practical needs.
Suffering is not the end.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God… For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains… and not only the creation but we ourselves” Romans 8:18-19, 22-23
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies… For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10, 17
ð Pray for God’s strength and provision to those who are still stranded, low on food and water, and are feeling helpless.
ð Pray for God’s comfort and care to the thousands who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
ð Pray for God’s protections to people living along the coastlines as storm surges threaten their homes.
ð Pray that roads and communication would be restored so BGR teams can bring aid relief to the islands of Leyte and Samar.
Suffering is an opportunity to share God’s hope and help
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality… Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:12-13, 15
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2
“let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” 1John 3:18
ð Pray for the volunteers who are coming and that they would fit well into what needs to be done.
ð Pray for wisdom as IMB representatives work to coordinate these efforts.
ð Pray for safety as IMB personnel and Filipino believers travel to disaster areas.
ð Pray for opportunities for IMB personnel and national believers to share their faith and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
ð Pray that this would be an opportunity to really minister to those affected. IMB representatives’ No. 1 prayer request has been “that God would bring good out of great bad here.”
Donations to help with the disaster response can be made here: https://netcommunity.imb.org/SuperTyphoonHaiyan or to SPBC “Philippines Disaster Relief”.
IMB in the Philippines
IMB plans after the Typhoon
Information and pictures from the Philippines that will move your heart can be found here (warning: not for young children)
The early 20th century of surgical medical practice, though necessary, was dangerous. One doctor, Evan O’Neil Kane, the chief surgeon at Kane Summit hospital in NY City, sought to bring attention to this matter. Major surgical procedures required the use of general anesthesia and it often had its complications. In Dr. Kane’s opinion, the hazards of a general anesthesia outweighed the risks of surgery itself. For example, patients with heart trouble or anesthesia allergies ran the risk of severe complications. Kane’s medical mission was to prove to his colleagues once for all the viability of local anesthesia. He knew it would take convincing and perhaps a guinea pig of sorts. Kane would have to find a patient brave enough to undergo surgery without general but with local anesthesia. Finally, on February 15, 1921, he found such a patient.
The patient needed an appendectomy and was prepped in all the normal ways but in the operating room was given only a local anesthetic. As he had thousands of times before in his 37-years of practice, Dr. Kane performed the initial cut and entered the abdomen. Slicing tissues and clamping blood vessels on his way he located the appendix. The surgeon nimbly clipped the appendix away and removed it from its surrounding tissue. He then folded the stump back in place and had the patient’s wound sewed back up by his assisting nurses. This was all done with the patient being wide awake and experiencing only minor discomfort. After a restful recovery of two days – faster than most general anesthesia cases – the patient was released from the hospital to recuperate at home.
Dr. Kane had achieved his goal. It was a defining moment in medical history and has since helped countless patients today. We should all be thankful not only for Dr. Kane, but for Dr. Kane’s patient – of who was himself. Dr. Kane performed surgery on himself and removed his own appendix.
Today, God is asking us to do the exact same thing spiritually speaking. Major surgery is required and you must be wide awake while it is being performed. Our spiritual surgery will be on the heart.
The heart is the most important organ in your body. If a person has a defective or diseased heart they will need a heart transplant. There are two kinds of heart transplant operations: orthotopic and heterotopic. Orthotopic transplant removes the failing heart and inserts a new heart; Heterotopic transplant leaves the old heart and connects the new heart to it, in effect creating a double heart. The reason for this latter transplant is the expert medical opinion is in doubt the new heart will be received and the body will reject it so the patient is not placed in immediate risk.
When it comes to the spiritual heart transplant that God performs, many desire the second procedure. We do not entirely trust God or do not want to completely obey Him. We hold back exit strategies and seek loop holes to faith so that we do not have to be fully responsible to our Creator.
Yet, faith requires fully following Jesus as Lord. God only performs one kind of spiritual heart transplant. He removes the old, defective and diseased heart and replaces it with a new heart full of life, joy and zest – a heart that beats to the pulse of eternity and the Spirit of God.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it… No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:23-24, 62
“How can we who died to sin still live in it? … We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”” Romans 6:2-4
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2Corinthians 5:17
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
The next 3 weeks will be a sermon series to help all of us go through a spiritual heart transplant. We will look at a familiar psalm to help us understand both the sickness and the solution to REVIVE OUR HEARTS.
Psalm 51 starts with a heading title which pinpoints the historical setting of the psalm. “To the Choirmaster, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the Prophet went to him after he had gone in to Bathsheba.” In other words, it was a psalm of David after he was confronted with the sin of adultery and murder. Psalm 51 is David’s diary confession of guilt and repentance.
Cf. for background 2Samuel 11-12
2 Samuel 12:7-14 “Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.”
EXAMINE Psalm 51 I am a sinner (Nov 3). I am saved (Nov 10). I am spiritually growing (Nov 17).
I am a sinner because of my condition and my choices.
David opens diary of confession with a plea for mercy [hanan: gracious generosity, undeserved stooping favor; cf. Ruth to Boaz in Ruth 2:10 “Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, when I am a foreigner?”]. David understands that the only manner he can relate to God is not based on human merit but divine mercy. His prayer requests God for mercy according to the character of God’s steadfast love [hesed: covenant loyalty, overwhelming goodness and grace] and God’s abundant mercy [rakham: compassion from inner bowls].
If we do not have God’s mercy then we die in misery. Without mercy there is no forgiveness, no victory over sin, no power over addictions, no help in our failures; our lives will remain burdened and broken. Without mercy we have no contact or communication with God. There is no spiritual life or relationship with God unless mercy shows up… unless the Father mercifully sends the Savior to graciously enter into our world to conquer sin, satan, death and hell. The poison of our sin and the pride of our selfishness will rot in our veins unless the King of Glory lifts up our head and fills our hearts with his blood-bought mercy.
The reason people say worship, church and the Christian life is boring is because deep down we believe we’re OK. We have forgotten the gravity of our sin and the grief that follows without hope of salvation. What we need is a pulsating, throbbing ache of our souls to see and savor the great mercy of God. We must become captivated by His mercy and the throne of our hearts must be consumed with the taste of God’s great grace.
After the initial plea for mercy is David’s threefold description of his sin:
- blot out my transgressions [peshaʿ: moral rebellion] (Psalm 51:2, 3, 13)
- wash me from my iniquity [ʿāwōn: moral emptiness] (Psalm 51:2, 9)
- cleanse me from my sin [ḥaṭṭāʾt: moral failure, missing the mark or path for a standard] (Ps 51:2, 3, 9)
In 2009-10 there was a breakout of the H1N1 flu virus. During the pandemic, ABC News did an experiment with a WashingtonD.C. 5th grade class. The experiment’s goal was to see how well children washed their hands. At the beginning of the day, the news crew coated the students’ hands with a clear lotion that was only visible under a black light. The amount of lotion left on the kids’ hands at the end of the day would reveal how well they washed their hands. If the students could wash away the invisible lotion, then surely they could wash away germs.
The students went about their classes as usual, washing their hands and using hand sanitizer throughout the day. But when the news crew shined the black light on the children’s hands at the end of the school day, the results were less than sanitary. Of the 25 students in the class only 2 had washed well enough to remove the lotion. Many students spread the lotion over their face and clothes. Even the teacher was revealed to be a poor hand washer. This story illustrates the obvious principle: it’s hard to wash germs away if you can’t see them.
The same is true of your heart. It is likely that you consider yourself pretty clean – a good person. But sin is present in every one of us in a place that we cannot immediately see or cleanse. Our hearts are stained with sin. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Sin is in our condition and in our choices. It is more than just being in our surroundings, it is in the depth of our souls.
We have inherited or imputed guilt, represented by ancestors and Adam
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
We have initiated guilt, reflective of our own actions and attitude
Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
1John 1:8 “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
In Psalm 51:3, David continues the description of his sin as being ever before him. The tape replays over and over in his mind and the guilt of his past keeps haunting him.
- David probably saw it in the ghost of Uriah whom he murdered
- David probably saw it in the guilt of Bathsheba’s eyes whom he committed adultery
- David probably saw it in the grief of his son whom would die as punishment from God
In Psalm 51:4, David underscores that his sin was against God. As noted, what about Uriah? Bathsheba? His dead son? The nation of Israel whom he abused his position as king? David understood all this but his point was that the human dimensions of offense fade into comparison to mocking the grace and blessing of God.
In Psalm 51:5, David establishes a summary reminder that our sinfulness is through both inheritance and initiative. We sin because we are sinners and we are sinners because we sin.
So what is our response?
ð Like David, we must confess our sin. David pleads for mercy and then acknowledges his wrongdoing. He says “blot out my iniquity”, “wash me from my iniquity”, “cleanse me from my sin”, “my transgressions and my sin is before me”, “I sinned and did evil”. He owns his faults and failures.
ð We too must own our sin. We must stop blaming others, using our circumstances as an excuse to satisfy our selfish pleasures, or rationalize behavior contrary to God’s Word.
Colossians 3:5-6 “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”
Romans 13:14 “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
When you near the landing of an airplane flight the pilot speaks an announcement for flyers to turn up their tray tables, straighten their seats and that flight attendants will come by to pick-up any unwanted garbage. Isn’t that a strange phrasing… as if there is some garbage that people desire? Yet, we all know that there are many who do not let go of their garbage. They hang on to it. God is saying through Psalm 51 to turn over all your garbage – repent and seek revival.
I am a sinner in need of repentance and revival
The point of Psalm 51 is to show us God is a greater Savior than we are a sinner. David understood the solution to his sin was the saving power of God’s atoning mercy. The source of salvation was God not religious sacrifices (51:16-17).
Salvation occurs through God’s saving power. We access that power by grace through faith. Faith is a gift of God that allows us to turn (repent) away from our sin and turn toward God.
Martin Lloyd Jones sermon on Psalm 51 called, “Out of the Depths” says,
“I would emphasize that the test of repentance is this, that a man having looked at himself and his own heart and life, says to himself: “I deserve nothing but hell, and if God sends me there I haven’t a single complaint to make. I deserve nothing better!” ‘
“Repentance means that you realize that you are a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell-bound. It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you and that you long to get rid of it and that you turn your back on it in very shape and form. You renounce the world whatever the cost, the world in its mind and outlook as well as its practices, and you deny yourself and take up the cross and go after Christ. Your nearest and dearest and the whole world may call you a fool or say you have religious mania, you may have to suffer financially, but it makes no difference. That is repentance.”
ð Repentance is more than regret. You may regret getting caught or feel discomfort but that’s not repentance.
2Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
ð Repentance leads to a change of heart and action. It is following through so that our lives match what our lips speak.
Luke 3:8 “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”
We all need repentance. Repentance is a spiritual evaluation that requires spiritual surgery. It requires a full transplant of heart and that’s exactly what God promises.
Ezekiel 36:25-27 “I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
µ Where do you need repentance?
µ Will you turn to receive a new heart and ask God to “revive my heart”?
µ Pray for revival @SPBC
 http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F70917F8395810738DDDAF0994DA405B818EF1D3 http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-bruce-howell-stories-vessels-chosen-honor-4277.asp
What is your favorite love story?
- Cinderella with Prince Charming
- Gone with the Wind with Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh
- When Harry Met Sally with Billy Crystal & Meg Ryan
- The Princess Bride with Westley & Buttercup
- Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts & Richard Gere
- Titanic with Kate with Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslett
- The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez
- Music & Lyrics with Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore
- Hitch with Will Smith & Eva Mendes
Regardless of your movie preference, we all have an ideal “narrative story line” that we want our life and relationships to follow. And when we compare our lives to others, or worse to Hollywood, then our expectations become really dangerous. We cast ourselves as the main character in a story and when life is not “happily ever after” we get angry and bitter with God.
The reality is that life is not telling our story but God’s story. In God’s story we are a supporting actor, playing a minor role. Yet, when we realize our life is His story then our role becomes that much more significant; because we are no longer in a movie only we want to see but we are telling a story that the entire world needs to hear and see.
Both Naomi & Ruth had to experience this beautiful letdown of expectations that their life experiences were leading them to tell the greatest love and redemption story ever to tell. The Book of Ruth is one of the greatest love stories of all time. This is the last message in series: “Redeeming Family” from the book of Ruth.
EXAMINE RUTH 4:13-22 God’s Faithfulness is Greater Than My Famine
Review: 1000 years before Jesus was born there was the biblical time of the Judges. It was a day of instability, immorality, injustice and idolatry – a lot like 21st century. The book of Ruth opens during this time in a small town called Bethlehem (House of Bread). Elimelech (my God is king) and his wife Naomi (pleasant) are living in a famine and leave to go to Moab (a place named after a man who’s parents had incest – Lot’s daughters got father drunk and seduced him). Naomi & Elimelech’s two sons Chillion and Mahlon marry two Moabite – pagan – women, Orpah and Ruth. After 10 years of famine and infertility with the children there is greater tragedy in that Elimelech and his two sons die. Naomi is heartbroken and wants to send her daughter-inlaws away. Orpah leaves but Ruth stays. Eventually, Naomi & Ruth return to Bethlehem and find favor and food through a man named Boaz. Boaz is generous to allow Ruth to work in his field. Ruth works tirelessly in sweaty and stained clothes. After six weeks of Ruth working Boaz is silent, he does nothing with Ruth. He’s a typical male – no communication, no cards, no coffee, no calls; not even a dinner date! So, Naomi tells Ruth to dress up and present herself to Boaz and all of a sudden they’re getting married J. Today’s passage shows the marriage and even the results of a honeymoon with which they have a son. Naomi loves being grandma to spoil and cuddle him. It’s a remarkable story of redemption, not just for Ruth but for all of us. The son that is born to them will continue generations to the great king of Israel, David and then onward through the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. It reminds us that God is faithful and He brings hope out of heartbreak and hopeless situations.
God is faithful to transform our hope (4:13-15)
This passage completes the cycle from grief to grace. Boaz takes Ruth to be his wife. This is the beauty of giving and receiving one another into covenant marriage. Their marriage is the climax of the book. Previously Ruth was a widow and now she is wed; previously Ruth faced adversity and now she is redeemed; previously Ruth was barren and now she has new beginnings and soon to have a baby!
ð Marriage is not an end but a hopeful beginning.
This is not to discourage anyone, but it takes more work to stay married than it does to get married. When you wed there is all the potential for love, joy and happiness. But we must remember, marriage is the union of two sinners and therefore, only faith and hope in the gospel with forgiveness of sin and assurance of unconditional love is the glue to transforming our relationships.
Verse 13 says, “the Lord gave her conception.”
ð What a wonderful reminder that God fills the womb and fashions each child; He is the author of life (Psalm 139; 127-128).
In verses 14-15 The women pray with Naomi. They bless the Lord that He did not leave Naomi (His footprints were unseen”; cf. Psalm 77) nor did He leave her without a redeemer. The ladies pray that the redeemer’s (either Boaz or the child) name be renowned in Israel (not just in Bethlehem!; cf. 4:11). Naomi had left Bethlehem for Moab but through tragedy and trial had restored her and even was bringing hope to Israel. The women prayed that the redeemer shall be a restorer of life and nourisher in Naomi’s old age [literally “a sustainer of your grey hair”] – this seems to identify the redeemer as the child, not Boaz! This son will come from a loved [ahava – strong attachment that leads to action, love of the will] one and mean more to Naomi than seven sons (viewed as a perfect family with ability to leave strong legacy).
Naomi was able to have hope by learning to follow the hand and trust the heart of God. You see, Naomi followed the hand of Elimelech to Moab but she should have followed hand of God by staying in Bethlehem. Upon returning to Bethlehem she had to allow her grieving heart get healed by the helping [ahava] love of Ruth.
Paul Tripp – Grief: Finding Hope Again, p.6 “Every time someone dies, it reminds those watching that God’s work is not yet complete. Because of sin, death entered the world. Only when sin is completely defeated will death cease to be part of the equation… As you weep, know this: the One who weeps with you is not content for things to stay as they are. His death was a cry and his resurrection a promise. The living Christ will continue to exert his power and you will grieve no more.”
ð We can follow the hand and trust the heart of God; they will lead us to see His love in Jesus Christ. In times of hardship we do not have to be shaken because in God’s providence, He is working together all things for good.
Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
God is faithful to transform our heritage (4:16-22)
Naomi’s hope was full again. She expected a lonely life but now her lap would bounce her grandson. The women connected Ruth’s son to Naomi’s inheritance. Together they named the son Obed (servant or worshiper of God), whom would be the father of Jesse and grandfather of David – the king of Israel.
The genealogy contained 10 names and perhaps stand in contrast to the 10 infertile years in Moab. Boaz was number 7 and David was 10th name, showing fulfillment. It shows the gift of life and legacy.
Remember, Peloni Almoni (4:1) was unnamed and his legacy would remain untold. Yet, Boaz’s legacy would be a holy heritage.
Questions may arise in this list of names: Why start with Perez when Judah, his father, was given the initial promise to the throne from Jacob (Genesis 49:8-10)? The author undoubtedly knew this and was trying to show that this genealogy begins too early to go all the way back and though it leads to David, it does not stop there but will extend a further legacy than beyond understanding! Even more prophetically, Obed enters this genealogy not through the original line, which would have been Mahlon, but through the unique redeeming father, Boaz. Likewise, Jesus will enter salvation history not through human origin but through the unique conception from God the Father.
ð Each name in history played a role to continue the purposes of God; so do we.
ð You never know who your children or grandchildren (and so on) will turn out to be. Will they be the next king of a nation? Will they be a teacher whom influences hundreds of children? Will they serve the public through congress or courts? Will they minister as a mom to inner-city children? Will they be fathers who foster children from broken and abusive homes? Will they fly planes across jungle lands to transport Bibles and missionaries? Will they write books and learn languages to translate Christian curriculum to evangelize unreached people groups? We must continue our commitment to growing godly generations.
Psalm 119:90 “Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.”
Psalm 78:6-7 “so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.”
- àWe each have a part in growing godly generations
God never wastes a moment.
The things that most people overlook are the very things that God creates as opportunities to bring Himself greater glory. The Book of Ruth is a reminder to not overlook the ordinary, to not trivialize our trials but remember God is a redeemer.
Reflect on these words:
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
While in Nicaragua I met a friend named Wilbur. Wilbur traveled with our group almost every day to minister and evangelize in the villages. He was in his early twenties and is studying business economics and hopes to create jobs for the people of Nicaragua. He is also attempting to learn English as a second language and most of all he is a fellow believer in Jesus Christ.
One of the ways Wilbur is trying to learn English and more about his faith is by listening to podcast mp3 of American preachers. He let me listen in to one of the sermons and asked me about a couple English phrases. The sermon he was listening to was by Adrian Rogers, a late great preacher of BellevueBaptistChurch in Memphis, TN. Pastor Adrian was describing the relationship between worship and the Holy Spirit and as an aside comment said the phrase: “liver shivers”. It is likely that many Americans would be confused at this phrase much less a person from Nicaragua. Essentially, the phrase is equivalent meaning to having a combined excited & nervous feeling simultaneously, or having warm fuzzies or goose bumps.
Sometimes the English language will combine two words that sound alike to create a unique meaning. Consider these: “hodge-podge”, “heebie-jeebies”, “hocus-pocus”, “helter-skelter” or even “baloney macaroni”. In such rhyming wordplays the meaning of the individual words may be absent or unrelated to the combined words; essentially the phrase is greater than the sum of the individual parts. That’s America!
Today’s message is about pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂. Peloni Almoni is an unnamed obstacle. It’s the phrase found in Ruth 4:1 that is translated mysteriously [“friend” in ESV, NIV; untranslated in HCSB, NKJV; and Ho! or behold in KJV]. Some commentators say it is like saying “so and so” with intentionally not naming the person to grant them any significance.
Peloni Almoni are the unnamed obstacles of your life. They are the things that stand in your way from obeying God with passion and persistence. Peloni Almoni are the issues that steal your joy and satisfaction in the Christian journey. Peloni Almoni says faith is hopeless and impossible. YET – God is greater to remind us that faith is full of hope and nothing is impossible with God!
When we have obstacles lining up against us we can be tempted to think God is against us. We exaggerate our sadness and exalt our suffering. We can become so bitter that we cannot see the rays of light shining through the storm clouds. In the book of Ruth, it was God who returned food from the famine (1:6); it was God who moved Ruth to compassion and commitment and the ability to trust God beyond present life challenges (1:16-17); it was God who preserved a kinsman redeemer to the line of Elimelech (2:1); it was God who granted favor and food to Naomi & Ruth through the field of Boaz (2:12); it was God who joined together the hope and hearts of Boaz & Ruth (3:9-11); and it will be God who blesses this remarkable couple with a son with multiplied generations that would eventually produce the salvation for all human kind (4:13, 20).
And even today, God is still at work overcoming obstacles. Turn to Ruth 4:1-12 as we discuss obstacles to overcome in your family.
Obstacle of integrity (Ruth 4:1)
Essentially, Ruth had just proposed to Boaz and it was accepted. Ruth asked Boaz to “spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer” and the response was “do not fear, I will do for you all that you ask” (3:9-10). Boaz then sends Ruth home with groceries rather than jewelry but the point is that he is promising to take care of her (3:15-17).
The next day Boaz travels up to the town gate and waits in hopes to meet the other man with legal rights to redeem Naomi’s property and perpetuate the family generations.
The question is, why didn’t Boaz just marry Ruth? Why did he have to go before the townspeople and approach the other kinsman with the opportunity?
The answer is Boaz was a man of integrity. Boaz was a “worthy man” (2:1) to be of noble substance (character), standing (communal reputation), and strength (valiant warrior). Even Naomi has recognized the character of Boaz as a man of honor in “not forsaking the living or the dead” (2:20) and one who settles matters quickly (3:18) – in other words he doesn’t waste time doing what is right. When Boaz is presented with the opportunity to become the kinsman redeemer for Ruth he is honest in saying there is another whom has the legal right and then he immediately seeks to solve the problem with integrity.
When it comes to the obstacle of integrity we all have choices. Our character is not the summation of a few large choices but a million little choices. So, we must decide if we want to be known as a Boaz or a Bozo.
Integrity must be modeled.
Proverbs 20:7 “The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him!”
ð Parents, would you be satisfied if your children followed your present (not past – there is grace!) example?
ð Leaders, would God be satisfied if the entire church followed your present example?
ð Teens, would the world be better and God’s kingdom advanced if they followed your example?
Integrity must be followed.
Proverbs 10:9 “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out.”
Proverbs 28:18 “Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.”
Obstacle of redemption (Ruth 4:1-6)
Boaz meets the pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ – the unnamed [So and So, friend] redeemer at the city gate. The language suggest that it was a providential meeting as he happened to pass through and Boaz was sitting there. This is the way God works… and unfortunately it is also the way sin works. Life will always have a fork in the road where you must decide which way to travel.
So, Boaz gathered the town elders to listen to the redemption proposal. Boaz is the initiator. He starts the conversation notifying that Naomi is selling land belonging to their relative Elimelech. If the unnamed redeemer wants to redeem the land then he must act, but if not then he must remove himself from the legal hold.
Shockingly, pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ wants to redeem the land. It is shocking to us because we are cheering for Boaz to be the Prince Charming. But it is not surprising to the book of Ruth because her life has been one trial after another. And interestingly, this trial is not caused by any wrongdoing but because of righteousness. Boaz is maintaining his integrity, he is doing his duty as one of the kinsmen.
- pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ is nameless. In a book where names have been vitally important, this person is nameless. If the person was named he would have been recorded in history and as part of the legal process with Boaz. But he remains nameless for self-preservation. In an attempt to make a name for himself he ends up with no legacy. Mr. Whoever vanishes into whatever-land.
- Men, beware of how you create a legacy; be sure it’s rooted in eternity (Mat 6:19-20)
- pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ is negligent. In all the hurt and heartache of Naomi & Ruth, this is the first mention of him. It was likely that he knew of his uncle Elimelech’s passing and inheritance coming his way but he has done nothing to pursue or protect Naomi.
- Ladies, beware of men who neglect responsibility in simple bc it will surface elsewhere.
- pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ is narcissistic. He selfishly wants the land for personal gain to his own inheritance. Once he realizes that the inheritance would also belong to Ruth and future offspring then he turns his back on his family – Elimelech and the two widows. He has neither the reputation nor the resolve to step up and be a godly man.
- Ladies, beware of men who only want you around for their contentment or convenience.
Life is filled with pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ redeemers. The world is filled with false prophets, functional saviors, idols, and God-substitutes. Who are you following? Who is your Savior? Where is your hope for redemption and escape of this world? Who is your pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂?
In contrast to pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂
- Boaz is named. His name means strength and he is worthy and righteous.
- Jesus has a name above all names (Philippians 2:9)
- Boaz honorable. He is faithful and has gone above and beyond expectations to protect and provide for Naomi & Ruth.
- Jesus went above expectations of living righteously and also dying cruelly on a cross to pay for our sin (Philippians 2:8)
- Boaz is noble. He is a selfless servant, seeking to honor his family name and not to mention Ruth.
- Jesus was humble and considered others in love and sacrifice (Philippians 2:6-7)
ð Are you choosing pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ rather than choosing glorious Jesus?
John 10:10 “The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Acts 4:12 “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
1Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus – who gave himself as a ransom for all”
Obstacle of participation (Ruth 4:7-10)
The unnamed redeemer chooses not to participate in redeeming his family, yet Boaz receives the privilege and opportunity. The unnamed redeemer removes his sandal and tells Boaz to make the redemption. The sandal removal custom has to do with walking on the property that belongs to you and now in a public setting the shoe is removed so as to say, this land no longer belongs to me.
Boaz is eager to marry Ruth. He tells all the people his motivation for marriage with Ruth
1) To redeem Ruth as his wife (4:9).
2) To redeem and honor the name of his deceased family inheritance – “to perpetuate the name of the dead… and that the name of the dead may not be cut off” (4:10).
Boaz did not get married for selfish reasons: desire for companionship rather than loneliness; desire to please his friends who were all married; desire for intimacy and sex; desire for children; desire for financial security; desire for adventure… many of these are good desires but this was not Boaz’s purpose for getting married.
Boaz’s purpose for marriage pointed beyond himself and Ruth. It stood for a greater relationship so that future generations would know of the death of Elimelech and the resurrection of this family through Boaz.
Likewise, Christian marriage should not be entered into lightly because it is a great and glorious reflection beyond the couple and to Jesus Christ (cf. Ephesians 5:25-32).
Likewise, Christians in general are called to participation with Christ. We remove our sandals of sin and exchange the identification of our redeemer to the resurrection hope in Jesus Christ. Like the sandal custom is a symbol of Ruth’s redemption, so baptism is the symbol for the believer.
Obstacle of blessing (Ruth 4:11-12)
After the legal redemption ceremony the town’s elders and people gather to show their support to the relationship and marriage of Boaz & Ruth. They pray a blessing over the couple. The fact that it is all the people and elders gathering to pray for them shows friendship and faith.
Friendship: “we are witnesses” (v.11)
- The people of God from Bethlehem accept Ruth the Moabite. This shows holy hospitality, warm affection and generous grace.
- The people of God are all gathered together to show their support in the journey. It has been a long and grueling journey for Ruth & Naomi. They arrived empty handed and now they are embraced with full provision.
- à Our church can provide friendship blessing and hospitality to those whom are from “Moab”
Faith: “May the Lord…” (vv.11-12)
- The people of God believe in miracles. Ruth was seemingly barren after 10 years of not having a child (1:4-5). Yet God’s people pray that their offspring will be abundant.
- Like Rachel & Leah who built up house of Israel (Genesis 35:22b-26; 46:8-27)
Leah gave Jacob 6 sons, Rachel bore 2 sons. 4 others sons (2 each) would be born to maidservants Bilhah and Zilpah to create the 12 tribes of Israel who would then grow to 70+ people initially entering Egypt. Later, the Egyptians would fear the numerous Israelites. In all, the prayer is that Boaz & Ruth would be blessed with many descendants.
- Act worthily in Ephratha and renowned in Bethlehem
The prayer is that Boaz would be prosperous and wealthy and have a great name in Bethlehem. Literally it’s “may a name be called/given” or “may people call you a name”, unlike pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂.
Further, this is prophetic in that the Messiah would be born from Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and would most certainly fulfill the promise to Abraham and onward through Boaz, David and even the Messiah of having many descendants (cf. Galatians 3:7-9).
- Like house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah
Perez was born as a result of a deceptive and semi-incestuous relationship between Judah and his daughter inlaw Tamar (Gen 38). Yet, the point is increased offspring.
Further, there is the similarity of Tamar & Judah with how the Moabites resulted in deception and immorality (Gen 19:30-38) and yet still received blessing of offspring from the Lord – so how much greater will the offspring be from the result of two godly “worthy” and upright character individuals of Boaz & Ruth? Perhaps again a prophetic hint leading to the Savior and to the character of the Savior – righteous yet a friend of sinners!
ð The people of God are called to believe in miracles… have faith in God on behalf of others to intercede for their salvation; intercede for help and healings…
- cf. Mark 2 where Jesus heals cripple who was lowered down by 4 friends when Jesus “their faith” (Mark 2:5)
ð How are you seeking to be blessed? How are you seeking to have a great name and build prosperity?
Proverbs 10:7 “The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.”
Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold.”
Only one name is worthy of worship
Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
Only God is the blesser of good
James 1:17 “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights”
pĕlōnı̂ almōnı̂ or Jesus?
 See The IVP Bible Background Commentary, pp.280 for further information.
The book of Ruth, and the Bible as a whole, shows timeless truth in a truthless time; and this is especially true in regards to our topic today of relationships. Ruth is a young, single widow. She does not want to remain single but moreso she wants to marry the right man.
In our day and age, we have many singles who dislike singlehood but they dislike patience more. Waiting for the right person and the right time according to God’s standards has become inconsequential rather than imperative.
History shows that if any society wants to survive it must uphold and strengthen its most basic unity – the family. Civilization will collapse without family as a firm foundation.
A 2006 report on NPR said that 80% of Americans are sexually active by the age of 20, and only 20% of women marry as virgins. Furthermore, cohabitation has increased 72% between 1990 and 2000, and the cohabitation rate increased ten-fold between 1960 and 2000. Fully 41% of Americans will cohabitate at some point during their life. Further, by 2016 most children will be born out of wedlock than not.
Simply put, we need more Ruth’s – singles who are more committed to being disciples than daters; and believers who honor Hebrews 13:4 “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
EXAMINE RUTH 3 Risk, Romance, and Redemption 3 principles for relationships
Relationships are a risk worth taking (Ruth 3:1-2)
In the story of Ruth, we see a variety of relationships. Naomi & Ruth are two widows who have formed a remarkable relationship. The beautiful bond of love is on full display in Ruth 1:16-17 “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
In Ruth 2, Ruth takes the initiative to labor for food. She works all day and night (2:7) and experiences great generosity from a man named Boaz. The sovereign favor of God has arrived in joining these two individuals. Ruth receives protection in a strange land and provision from a sympathetic man. Boaz receives a bright display of humility and honor from a woman of character.
In Ruth 3, Naomi returns the initiative to provide Ruth rest (ESV/KJV), security (HCSB), a home (NIV). This is important to note because it shows the work and effort it takes for two individuals in relational commitment. Relationships are not one-way streets. Friendship is not effortless.
Relationships are a risk worth taking. In fact, we need each other. That simple statement is elementary simple and yet extremely profound. Vulnerability of the human soul is not a danger or disease to avoid. Humanity lives in a condition of brokenness that we don’t like to speak about. Beneath the surface everyone is struggling in a spiritual battle, trying to hold it together. We are flawed people on a flawed journey in need of a flawless destination. This is the church: broken sinners finding help and hope from a beautifully broken Savior.
ð God calls us to interdependence and intersecting our lives together.
Job 6:14 “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”
1Corinthians 12:20 “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
ð God calls older to mentor the younger. Naomi healed her grief by helping Ruth, also wanted her good.
Psalm 145:4 “one generations hall commend your works to another”
Proverbs 20:29 “the glory of young… is their strength, but the splendor of old… is their gray hair”
Titus 2:3-4 “Older women are to train the young women…”
Friendship can be romantic (Ruth 3:3-9)
Naomi sought to influence Boaz with Ruth’s charm and character. Naomi instructed Ruth to wash and anoint herself with perfume and put on her outer garment (coat – not “best clothes” as NIV). It is likely that Boaz had only seen Ruth with work related clothing and appearance, yet that would change this night. Further, Ruth is to observe Boaz and approach him after work and eating his meal.
Ruth follows Naomi’s advice and uncovers his feet. This is an interesting practice: perhaps it’s to make Boaz awake making his lower body cold or perhaps more likely it is a cultural practice to request marriage (waiting for Boaz to respond and spread the blanket over Ruth; see v. 9 “spread your wings”).
The context clarifies that these actions are not sexual. First is the build up of Ruth’s character is not to be underestimated in contrast to current culture and her hometown of Moab, and is referenced by Boaz (v.10-11). Second is Boaz’s response to question whom was at his feet (v.9). Ruth’s garments were not seductive because they concealed her identity. Third, Boaz is prepared for Ruth to be given in marriage to someone else and not himself (v.13).
ð As Ruth, ladies should be women of friendship and faith.
She was a friend to Naomi in which she is called my daughter 8x
(1:11; 1:12; 1:13; 2:2; 2:22; 3:1; 3:16; 3:18)
- She entrusted herself to the Lord’s favor (grace)
- Leaving Moab and committing to Naomi in Bethlehem (1:16-17)
- Laboring in the fields at God’s gracious direction (2:2-3)
- Listening to Naomi and submitting herself to Boaz (3:5-9)
ð Ladies, rely on friendship over romance in pursuit of a man.
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30
“Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” 1Peter 3:3-4
ð As Boaz, men are to model character & chivalry
Character described as a man of worth: noble substance (character), standing (communal reputation), strength (valiant warrior).
Chivalry actions displayed with Ruth.
- He treats Ruth as a daughter (2:8; 3:10, 3:11)
(cf. 1Tim 5:2 treat older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity)
- He helps Ruth to work in his field.
- He share with Ruth the fellowship of his servant women.
- He protects Ruth from danger of other men.
- He provides Ruth food and water.
- He prays for Ruth to be blessed by Lord
1) Raise your daughters to value virtue over seduction & sensuality
2) Raise your sons to value character and chivalry.
“It is better to build boys than mend men.” – Truett Cathy
Children are growing up all around us without good and godly parents or role models.
We must be those men.
Relationships are to be redemptive (Ruth 3:10-18)
Boaz responds to Ruth’s proposal in the affirmative. He prays blessing upon her, calling her his daughter (2x: 3:10-11). Boaz is humbled by Ruth’s kindness (hesed) in that she does not pursue other young men but more, in that she desires to perpetuate the name of their family in honor of Elimelech.
Kinsman Redeemer: A relative with at least 3 roles
1) Perpetuate family generations (Deuteronomy 25:5-10)
2) Preserve property/personal rights (Leviticus 25:25-30/ 25:47-49)
3) Punish wrong to family (Numbers 5:8; 35:19-21)
Boaz admits there is another kinsman closer than he was who could redeem the family line. If that unnamed redeemer is unwilling then Boaz desired the privilege.
Boaz filled Ruth’s cloak with 6 measures of barley and sent her home to Naomi. Ruth arrives home and tells Naomi everything.
Naomi is confident that Boaz will not rest until the mission is finished.
How is this relationship redemptive? How does it reflect the gospel and what application does it have for us today?
ð Ruth submits herself at the feet of Boaz.
- à We must submit ourselves at the feet of the Lord Jesus
ð Boaz pursues redemption until it is finished.
- à Christ purchases and completes redemption for us.
à We must also be careful that God’s gift of friendship/relationships does not become an idol. Naomi was selfless but so was Ruth.
C.S. Lewis “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” (Letters of C.S. Lewis, p.248)
àOnly friendship with God is supreme.
ð Last week message challenged to upgrade from B-movie status where you are main character in your story to an A-movie where God is the main character in your story. The way you do that is by risking a friendship with God and then with His people. Friendship with God is costly but it’s even more costly to be His enemy.
How do we know the Scriptures are not a myth, legend or created by misinformed monks or power hungry empires?
- The content is too near the events. In other words, the book (Gospel & epistle) writers record their accounts between 20-60 years after the actual historical events. This is too short a time for the accounts to be mythical or legend. In fact, some of the writings quote contemporary songs/poetry of the day that were well engrained in culture, showing the writings were simply writing facts about the events. As for the Bible message being created or corrupted we will look at in a moment.
- The content is too real. If you were to create a heroic story about a man and his followers, you would not include random details (grass is green – Mark 6:39; man ran away naked – Mark 14:52; 153 fish – John 21:11; etc.); not include repeated dysfunction (disciples afraid and lack faith – Matthew 8:26; disciples want to send away crowd but Jesus wants to keep, feed and care – Matthew 14:16/19:13-14; Peter and Disciples deny and fail Jesus often – Matthew 14:30, 20:24, 26:8, 26:40, 26:75, John 4:27; etc.); you would want to include dependable reporting yet the Gospels show female testimony to the resurrection which would have been discredited in that day – John 20.
- The content is too costly. If you were to create a story that is knowingly false then you would not suffer in depth persecution and ultimately martyrdom. Yet, that is exactly what each of the disciples did along with numerous others.
- The content is too widespread. To say that the Bible was created or corrupted is just not honestly dealing with the facts. The Church recognized the canon (Bible books) but they did not create or corrupt it.
- We have over 14,000 ancient copies (large thanks to the Dead Sea Scroll discovery), with fragments no later than circa 125AD, being Papyri 52. This proves Scripture texts to be profoundly reliable and trustworthy in that over 99% of the Bible is faithful to the original manuscripts, with the other percentages varying due to spelling errors, word order or word additions/omissions; and none affecting any doctrinal issues. In contrast to secular texts we have fewer than 10 copies of writings of Plato, Sophocles, Homer or Caesar Augustus, and those copies were made at least 1000 years after the original manuscript (and yet secular academia offers little if any doubt to its manuscript accuracy).
- Furthermore, the early church by end of 1st Century had all of today’s 27 NT books written just not collected. By as early as 70-130AD all the books were noted as inspired Scripture (cf. 1Tim 5:18 with Lk 10:7 and 2Peter 3:15-16) and before 300AD, with Eusebius beginning lists and categorization (Received, Disputed and Spurious) of the books as recognized with few disputed (such as Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, Jude and Revelation). By 367AD Athanasius had provided a full canon, confirmed further 382 Council of Rome, 393 Council of Hippo and 397 Council of Carthage. In contrast to Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code, there were no “lost Gospels” as the writings were familiar but unused by the churches and simply deemed spurious at best and heretical at worse. Scripture canonization (canon – rule, straight line, measuring standard; the “rule of faith”) was the process of the Church affirming and recognizing (not creating) certain books/letters over others. This was not a small, select few monks or religious types in a secret closed room picking and choosing for their own purposes. In fact, as stated previously, no Council actually voted on the collection of books but was simply recognized as which one’s were regarded as “Holy Scripture”. During the first three centuries after the resurrection of Christ, many gospels, acts, epistles (letters), and revelations flooded the landscape. Some were included in the Bible; but most were not. For example, there were the four Biblical Gospels; five separate works known as gospels among the Gnostics (The Gospels of Truth, Thomas, Philip, Egyptians and Mary); and two more gospels found in the Pseudapigrapha (which means “false writings”). Recently, another gospel, the Gospel of Judas, dated 225-250 a.d. was found in Egypt and hailed by many as giving new insights into the “real” Jesus. There are numerous Acts, like the Acts of Paul and Thecla and multiple “Revelations” in existence. Numerous epistles exist, like the Shepherd of Hermes. With so many writings to choose from, you wanted to know the criteria (the “canon”) for selecting which books were included in the Bible and which were omitted. The canonization process occurred by the church at large, based essentially on these three principles:
1) Consistency: Was the book in agreement and consistent with orthodox doctrine and practice?
2) Connection: Was the writer an Apostle or have immediate contact and eyewitness testimony with one?
3) Catholicity: Was the book read and used widely by the churches everywhere? So the transmission stages was something like this: historical events – oral culture of tradition – written sources – texts distributed and collected – texts canonized – texts copied and translated for the Church (cf. Lk 1:1-4; Jn 20:30-31; 1Cor 15:3-8; 2Pet 1:16-21; 1Jn 1:1-4). Today the Bible is translated in various parts of over 2400 languages with almost 2300 languages remaining or having no Bible access.
- To note, the OT canon was completed around 400 B.C. with the prophet Malachi and was established as God’s written words (Law, Prophets and Writings). From 400 B.C. to the time of Jesus Christ is known as the intertestamental period, which some books were written. Protestants & Jews regard these writings as “The Apocrypha” (false, spurious), whereas the Roman Catholics include them as Scripture.
○ The content is too fitting. Like hand in glove, NT fulfills OT prophecy hundreds of years preceding. Further, Jesus viewed the OT as Scripture (see repeated quotes in Gospels); and so did Peter with Paul (2Peter 3:16) and Paul with Luke (1Timothy 5:18); as did Paul on all Scripture (2Timothy 3:15-17).
○ The content is too transforming. The Bible has changed not only the lives of the Apostles but mine and other Christians. Alsmost every Apostle died a martyr’s death – even Peter who denied Jesus and later was reinstated as a leading evangelist for the Christian faith; and he would die crucified upsidedown! At one point, Paul said there were over 500 living eyewitnesses whom could have verified Jesus was resurrected. Simply put, the Bible is not just another book – it is historical truth – the Word of God.
Review of Zealot (Reza Aslan) Darrell Bock is an excellent theologian and specializes in NT & person of Jesus
2 other reviews of Zealot
Review of Killing Jesus (Bill O’Reilly) Andreas Kostenberger was one of my seminary professors and is stellar on NT, especially Gospel of John http://thegospelcoalition.org/book-reviews/review/killing_jesus
- The Historical Reliability of the Gospels
And ultimately, it comes to you encountering God through the Scriptures for yourself. Start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Read the book of Acts to see how Christianity began and grew into the greatest movement in all of history.
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. Hebrews 1:1-3
To understand the purpose of tongues in the local church. This significance can be explored by understanding the purpose and use of tongues as used by Luke in the book of Acts.
Tongues: to speak with other than their native language, foreign language
2:3 glw~ssai (glōssai) 2:4, 2:11, 10:46 glw>ssaiv (glōssais)
Language: “the tongue or language peculiar to any people”
2:6, 2:8 diale>ktw (dialektō)
Speak/ Utterance: to speak out, but not normal speech, “but one belonging to dignified and elevated discourse” The word is only used in Acts, twice here with Peter and once in 26:25 with Paul to emphasize the sense of prophetic utterance. 2:4 ajpofqe>ggesqai (apophthegesthai) 2:14 ajpefqe>gxato (apephthegzato)
Acts 2 Pentecost
In Acts 2, Luke uses these two words (above) interchangeably to reference the same phenomenon. “In other NT literature the terms are likewise both used to mean ‘known language’ (cp. Acts 1:19; 22:2; 26:14 for examples of dialektos and Rev.7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15 for examples of glossa)” All of the disciples were enabled to speak in other tongues/languages which allowed the crowd to hear the message in his own language (2:6-8). Their speech was intelligible and heard by each in own language. Luke, then, gives a long list of different nations and then records the crowd speaking of their hearing the language. Interesting to note is the parallel usage in verses 8 and 11. The significance of Luke’s parallel usage of these words seem to give the meaning that tongues are a type of foreign language, ie. dialect (known or unknown). In commentary on this passage Polhill adds, “the flow of the narrative does seem to favor the view of a miracle of foreign speech.”
Luke also uses the same word for the disciples speaking and Peter’s proclamation in verses 4 and 14. There is no indication that Peter spoke in tongues. It seems to be another indicator showing the speech is recognizable and understood by the people for the furtherance of the gospel message.
Most important to notice is the content of the “tongues/language.” Luke says they were “speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” Bruce adds, “The content is more important than the manner.” Peter continues to explain the “mighty deeds of God” by proclaiming the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ (v.22-24) and the fulfillment of God’s plan to pour out his Spirit on “all flesh” (v. 17). This also explains Luke’s list of nations foreshadowing the worldwide Christian mission.
Acts 10 “Gentile Pentecost” 
The entire account of Cornelius and Peter’s vision is quite fascinating. Luke is showing how the gospel message is expanding and uses Peter’s vision to show God’s call to take the gospel to the Gentiles. While Peter proclaims the gospel (v.34-43) the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius, “his relatives and close friends” (v.24), and they began to speak with tongues (glōssais) and exalt God (v.44). Polhill remarks that the Western text adds “έτέραις” for “other tongues/languages” to parallel Pentecost in Acts 2. Bruce cross-references Peter’s later commentary on the event in 11:15 and 15:8 to make the parallel stronger. One may ask, “Is this the same experience as that of Pentecost?” Williams appears to believe it is a different experience terming these tongues as “ecstatic utterance.” However, because of the strong parallels mentioned above, one can affirm that they are the same experience.
Also interesting to note is that Luke makes special mention that “all the circumcised believers” heard the Gentiles speak and were amazed (v.45-46). The reader can recognize the author’s use of tongues to mark the expansion of the gospel message (1:8), first in Jerusalem (ch.2), Samaria (ch.8, though no direct reference to tongues), and moving outward to the Gentiles in chapter 10 and beyond.
Acts 19 Ephesian Pentecost
As Paul journeyed through Ephesus he encountered some disciples who had not heard of the Holy Spirit and only had John’s baptism. In other words, they had no knowledge (or incomplete) of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, or the events of Pentecost. Paul further explained the baptism of Jesus and they believed and were baptized. They also received the Holy Spirit and began speaking in tongues (glōssais) and prophesying. Again, Williams views this gift as parallel to that of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 whereas, the text does not clearly indicate a manner of ecstatic speech. It can be seen that the author is further advancing the outline of the book, the spread of the gospel to all peoples.
Brief Summary/ Application
In the book of Acts, from these three passages, the gift of speaking in tongues/languages seems to be an indication of the spread of the gospel and the reception of God’s Holy Spirit. This gift also is understood to be speaking in foreign language(s) rather than unintelligible, ecstatic speech. Whether or not this gift is the same as that which Paul addresses in the Corinthian church (1Cor.12-14) is another question beyond the bounds of this paper. However, it seems they are different since in Acts they are known, intelligible languages, yet in 1 Corinthians Paul speaks of the gift needing interpretation for the edification of the church. If this understanding of the gift of tongues is correct, then the gift is certainly applicable today. However, one must remember that the content of the gift was primary over the manner in which the gift was used. The content was to speak the “mighty deeds of God” and to spread the gospel to other peoples. Unfortunately, this gift is not commonly used in this way but is more about human performance and human edification. In addition, to speak of the gift of tongues as normative and essential to Christian faith and worship practice seems to go beyond the scope of the book of Acts, and much more, Scripture as a whole.
The gift of tongues should not be used as a litmus test as to whether or not one is a Christian who has the Holy Spirit. In fact, the argument can be made from the book of Acts and the Bible as a whole that not every believer will speak in tongues. Key figures in the growth of the church from Acts are never recorded as having spoken in tongues. Such persons were Barnabas, Stephen, Philip, Mark, Silas, Timothy, Aquila & Priscilla, Apollos and not least to mention is the apostle Paul. It is known that Paul spoke in tongues (1 Cor 14:6, 14, 18). However, Paul makes it clear in the same letter that not all speak in tongues (1 Cor 12:30). From the list of key persons in Acts who were not recorded as speaking in tongues and Paul’s words to the Corinthians, it seems reasonable to conclude that the gift of tongues is not a gift of primacy or superiority but rather equal, if not in some sense lesser, to the other spiritual gifts.
In conclusion, Luke uses the reception of the Holy Spirit by believers as a developmental theme in the book of Acts. He is showing God’s sovereign plan to include the Gentile world in his salvation of the Jewish people. The gift of tongues in Acts was an indicator to the Jews that those believers had equally received the Spirit, as with their experience at Pentecost. As seen in Acts 2, 10 and in Acts 19, Jewish believers were the audience of God’s dispensing his Holy Spirit. It is essential to note that the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to empower believers to be God’s witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:8). Churches and believers alike should focus on this latter purpose of the Holy Spirit rather than the minor gifts of the Holy Spirit.
 Paul expects a “no” answer from the question he poses. See Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1076.
 Joseph H. Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1977), 118.
 Ibid., 139.
 Ibid, 69.
 David J. Williams, Acts, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1985), 49.
 Chad Brand, “Tongues, Gift of” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper and Archie England (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1605.
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1072.
 John B. Polhill, Acts, The New American Commentary, Vol. 26 (Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1992), 100.
 F. F. Bruce, Commentary On the Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1954), 67.
 Ibid., 58.
 Polhill, 106.
 Ibid., 264. See also Bruce, 229 who also alludes to viewing this event as subordinate to Pentecost.
 Ibid., 263.
 Bruce, 229.
 Williams, 196.
 Bruce adds another parallel in that they both speak the “mighty deeds of God” and “magnify God” which is synonymous language, 230.
 Williams, 330.
 For fuller discussion see Paige Patterson, The Troubled Triumphant Church: An Exposition of First Corinthians, (Eugene, OR, 1983), 245-261.