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The Big Story of the Bible, Part 3 - Chapter 2: Fall

September 15, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Chapter 1 of the Big Story of the Bible is Creation. God created a world in which humans are made for relationship with their Creator. In this relationship with their Creator, humans have dominion over creation, bringing glory to God. In his wisdom, and as a part of his plan of redemption, God made the world with the potential for sin. God did not create the world imperfect, nor did he cause sin, but God allowed for sin to enter. This is chapter 2 of the Big Story of the Bible. Everyone has an answer to the question: What is wrong with the world? For some it is the lack of knowledge. For others it is the lack of equitable distribution of goods. Still, for others it is the lack of opportunity. We can go on listing the various perspectives on what is wrong with the world. Most of the list will be symptoms, not the root cause, of what is wrong in the world. The Bible has an answer for that: sin. All that we ever would desire was available to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They had a perfect relationship with their Creator, from whom all blessings flow. There was nothing wrong in the world for Adam and Eve in the Garden. And then, they were deceived and rebelled against their gracious Creator by eating the fruit of the tree God had told them not to. All evil in the world is a result of that sin. As we consider the rest of the Big Story of the Bible and even our own lives, we must take the Fall into account. Here are the key implications: ... Keep Reading

We started last week looking at the Big Story of the Bible by considering what I called “The Prequel.” Before creation, the persons of the Trinity made a covenant and plan for redemption. Everything flows out of that plan. The rest of the Big Story of the Bible will be covered in twelve chapters. Each chapter progresses the storyline of the covenant of redemption. Chapter 1, of course, is creation. In creation, God sets the stage for his grand plan of redemption. Remember, the Father planned redemption with the Son before creating the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1. “For that reason we must look upon Christ as the very purpose of God’s creation… His redemptive work from the Incarnation to the Resurrection was no accident, nor was it suddenly necessary in order to correct the course of an unforeseeably fallen creation, but it was fully in view when God created the world. Creation is, therefore, the beginning, or the preamble, of the history of redemption” (Willem VanGemeren, The Progress of Redemption, page 64). Therefore, in the act of creation God sets the stage for the blessings of redemption to be worked out, culminating in the New Creation (which happens to be chapter 12, or the final chapter, of our Big Story of the Bible). Let’s look at three key moments in the creation account of Genesis 1 & 2 through the lens of redemption: ... Keep Reading

I heard recently a speaker compare reading the Lord of the Rings with reading the Bible. He said that no one randomly opens The Two Towers and starts reading profitably without understanding the overarching storyline and the particulars of the context of the portion he is reading. He contends the same is with reading the Bible. The apostle Paul says that the Bible is profitable and equips the person of God for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17), but familiarity with the Big Story of the Bible is essential for maximizing the profitableness of Bible reading. How familiar are you with the overarching story of the Bible? Let’s dive into the Big Story of the Bible over the next few weeks. It all starts in the beginning…. well, it actually starts before the beginning. Most people are familiar with the opening words of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). We find in the Bible, however, that God was active even before creating the heavens and the earth. This, of course, assumes a chronological order of events in the storyline. God is not subject to such chronology since he is eternal and outside of time. We will have to save such mind-splitting theology for another Touchpoint series. While God is not subject to chronological order, he does work out his plan of redemption in a logical order, which we as creatures experience in the chronology of world history. ... Keep Reading

Mature in Christ

August 25, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The apostle Paul sums up his ministry in Colossians 1:28, where he says, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” This beautifully sums up what we aim to do at Oak Hills as well. We proclaim Christ in all that we do, from our preaching to our worship and liturgy to our Bible studies to our kids’ ministries. We want to celebrate and make known all that God has done for us through Jesus Christ. The end goal of such activity is “that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” A few verses earlier Paul touches on the urgency of growing in maturity. He says in verse 23 that we enjoy reconciliation with God our Father, “if indeed [we] continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that [we] heard.” True, saving faith is a maturing, enduring, persevering, stable, and steadfast faith. A stable faith is a mature faith. Paul proclaimed Christ so that believers would be more and more stable and steadfast in their faith. Let’s flesh out a bit more what this looks like in the life of a believer. Maturity in Christ is the penetration, reception, and incorporation of the Gospel in the whole person so that one marvels at Christ with one’s mind, delights in Christ with one’s heart, and obeys Christ with one’s will. In a nutshell, Christian maturity is the shaping of the mind, heart, and will by the Gospel. ... Keep Reading

I asked John Piper once what book has had the most impact on his life and thinking. His response has left a lasting impact on me. He said, “It is not so much books that have had the greatest impact, but sentences.” It is a sentence that our minds can memorize and meditate upon. It takes only a sentence to open us up to a new perspective or idea. So, I have watched for such sentences over the years in my reading and studies. I stumbled upon one this past week. I have been reading a new book by Mark Jones called Knowing Sin. Jones spent time studying under J.I. Packer. He caught Packer’s love for the Puritans, and has desired to follow in Packer’s footsteps in communicating deep theology in an accessible manner. Jones wrote Knowing Christ, seeking to imitate Packer’s Knowing God. This year Jones published Knowing Sin. In a discussion about the Bible’s diverse vocabulary to speak about sin, Jones comments on Proverbs 19:2, which says, “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Jones follows up by stating, “The hasty person sinfully ‘rushes into things’ by acting without thinking, which is a form of pride. Pride is at odds with patient waiting on the Lord” (53). This last sentence is what caught my attention. “Pride is at odds with patient waiting on the Lord.” ... Keep Reading

Daniel: The Blessed Man

August 11, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Daniel 7 is one of the most deep, complex, and exhilarating chapters in the Bible. After seeing the vision and hearing its interpretation, even Daniel admits that “my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed” (v. 28). At the center of the vision of beastly kingdoms and malicious rulers, Daniel gets a glimpse into the throne room of heaven. This glance on God’s sovereignty is worth more meditation. Read slowly verse 9 & 10: As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. ... Keep Reading

All Scripture is Profitable, even Daniel 7-12

August 4, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This Sunday at Oak Hills we will be entering the second half of our sermon series on Daniel. Preachers and Bible studies often focus on the first six chapters, but skip over the second six chapters of Daniel. The first half contains all the well-known stories: Daniel’s diet, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and humility, the fiery furnace, the lion’s den, and the writing on the wall. The second half, well, gets a bit strange: other-worldly beasts trampling the earth, angelic beings wrestling with demonic beings, and cryptic prophecies with various number formulations. Unfortunately, some avoid such portions of Scripture as if they are not profitable. The apostle Paul, however, says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). So, how should we hear the second half of Daniel as profitable? Part of the challenge is understanding the genre of Daniel 6-12. Bible scholars call this portion of Scripture (along with the book of Revelation and portions of Ezekiel and Zechariah) apocalyptic literature. If you do a Google search for the word Apocalypse, you’ll see images of destroyed cities, links to dooms-day movies, and references to Revelation. The word simply comes from the Greek word for revelation, it literally meaning a revealing. But there is more to the word when it is used to describe a genre in the Bible. ... Keep Reading

The Bible promises that God “gives grace to the humble” (Jms. 4:6). Last week we began to dig into what that grace looks like. I call it the blessings of humility. We saw that humility leads to justification by faith, fruitfulness in Christ, contentment, hunger for Christ, peace, and joy. Not to sound too much like a product sales pitch... Keep Reading

I started this series by giving several reasons why it is valuable to focus on humility. One of those reasons is that humility is the well-spring of all blessing and virtue. We see this in the oft-quoted proverb, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jms. 4:6). I would like to draw out and unpack those blessings that f... Keep Reading

Last week Pastor John, Bill Burns, Bret Willoughby, and I attended our denomination’s 49th General Assembly in Birmingham, AL. This is an annual meeting of representatives from the churches of the PCA to deliberate over matters that concern our denomination as a whole. Our denominational magazine, byFaith, provides a full report of the actions of GA on their website. You are welcome to read that (and ask questions), but I wanted to share some of the highlights here. GA received the report from the ad interim study committee on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault. This committee was formed by the 47th General Assembly in 2019 to “provide resources to God's people to help and encourage them respond well in cases of abuse in the church.” Their report is excellent and thorough and will be a valuable resource for the leaders of our church. You can check out the committee’s website for more information and to read the full report yourself. GA voted to withdraw the PCA from the National Association of Evangelicals. Concerns have grown over the increased political advocacy of the NAE, and many believe there is little value in remaining in such an association. As I read on Sunday, GA voted to send this statement about abortion to federal and state government officials:... Keep Reading

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