Essays for King Jesus

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Authored By

  • Milo Zehr
Published On
Saturday, May 7th, 2022

A common, popular view of how Christ’s death on the cross justifies sinners says that God imputed the sins of the whole world (or for those who believe in limited atonement, the sins of the elect) to Christ at the cross; that when a sinner believes in Christ, God imputes the righteousness of Christ to the believer by doing an accounting procedure in the books of heaven and simply crediting the alien righteousness of Christ to the believer’s account in heaven; that going to heaven is based solely on the faith that justifies and on forgiveness; that justification and forgiveness is something entirely external, is located wholly in God himself, and involves no change at all in the heart or personality of the one forgiven; and that the manner of life of the justified person has nothing to do with one’s eternal destiny, because to add following Christ in obedience to faith is to add works to grace.  Some form of these beliefs is common among professing Christians today.

One’s view of whether or not a professing believer’s conduct (obedience) relates to his eternal destiny is directly related to one’s view of what Christ’s work on the cross accomplishes in and for the believer.  The Protestant formula of imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ to the believer, apart from any or little work of Christ in the person, makes it possible to protect justification from depending in any way on something humans might contribute.  The Protestant position explains the value of Christ’s work on the cross in terms of what Christ did on the cross for believers and outside of believers.  For some people, this view then carries over into the post-justification views of the person because it allows the person to believe that he will go to heaven when he dies, even if he lives in blatant sin after conversion, because he believes God will accept the imputed righteousness of Christ to his account in heaven as a substitute for the holiness of life God desires of believers. 

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Authored By

  • Marlin Sommers
Published On
Saturday, April 2nd, 2022

Are commentaries cheating? Or do we need commentaries and study helps to understand and teach the scripture?  I believe using commentaries and study helps is important. Even more important, though, is keeping our primary attention on scripture itself.

What I call the “inside-out sandwich” is a process for bible study intended to keep our primary attention on scripture, while incorporating genuinely helpful attention to commentaries and study helps. The goal is to engage directly and personally with the text of scripture. Study helps should enhance direct engagement with scripture, not substitute for personal study.

The inside-out out sandwich involves three stages.

  • Stage one: Read and study the text without commentaries or other study helps.
  • Stage two: Consult study helps.
  • Stage three: Prepare final teaching notes directly from the biblical text.

A hamburger is flanked by two pieces of bread. The good stuff is in the middle surrounded by less valuable material. When studying scripture, the sandwich should be inside out. The meat of scripture comes first and last, while the less valuable, but still useful, human commentaries and study helps come in the middle.

The teacher must also study his audience as well as his own life and relationship to God. However, this essay focuses on the study of scripture passages.  This simple process applies well to Sunday school lessons, sermons, and other bible teaching.

Stage One: Read and engage the text on your own

The first step is reading the passage without commentaries or study helps. Don’t stop with the first reading. The goal is an overall grasp of the passage, based on your own understanding. Create your own representation of the passage. If you are artistic, you might draw a picture, or sketch a diagram. Of course, jotting notes or making an outline works as well. The point is to put work into your own understanding or mental map of the text. One of my personal favorite methods is to copy and paste the text into a document and then break it into smaller units and rearrange them on the screen. You can see some examples at my website.

Authored By

  • Dan Ziegler
Published On
Saturday, March 19th, 2022

In my previous essay, we discussed what is behind the conservative Anabaptist way of life and faith.  I shared that after 35 years of study and immersion in this faith community, I have become convinced that the answer is the way we Anabaptists understand and apply Scripture - the Anabaptist hermeneutic.  This hermeneutic is driven by three questions: “What if Jesus is who He says He is?”, “What if He means what He says?”, and “What if He’s talking to us?” 

I observed that we Anabaptists are a people who emphatically believe Jesus is who He says He is. Therefore, most of us come to Scripture through Him.  The 1963 Mennonite Confession of Faith describes this Christocentric approach to the Bible: 

“The message of the Bible points to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is to Him that the Scriptures of the Old Testament bear witness, and He is the One whom the Scriptures of the New Testament proclaim. He is the key to a proper understanding of the entire Bible.” 

With Christ at the center of our understanding of Scripture, there are two more principles that round out the way we non-conformed Anabaptists approach the Bible.