New Testament In A Month Plan — DAY 1

Today, June 1              Matt. 1:1-12:50

This is the first day in the challenge to read the New Testament in the month of June. Thanks for coming along.

I’m curious how your reading went today. How long did it take you to read accomplish the daily segment? I did it in about 40 minutes. Did you do it in one sitting, or break it into a number of sessions?

You may find this pace of reading may not be conducive to deep study, but I’m trusting that we’ll gain a “big picture” perspective that will be helpful.

What stood out to you in our reading in Matthew today? I was struck by how so many did not get who Jesus was, or what he was about.

I also intrigued the “prophet’s reward” mentioned in Matthew 10. Spent a few minutes in a commentary looking into this passage and saw how people were blessed when they honored prophets like Elijah and Elisha. How much more are we blessed when we recognize and embrace the one who is “greater than Moses.”

By the by, was I the only one whose brain was a little foggy this morning?

Any way, let me here from you. I’d love to see some robust interaction via the comments!

Tomorrow, June 2     Matt. 13:1-22:32

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8 Responses to New Testament In A Month Plan — DAY 1

  1. Derick says:

    I read today’s reading in three sittings of about 15 minutes a piece. I am always challenged by the beattitudes. I often find myself wrestling with the contrasting messages from Christ. For instance, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” and “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” verses “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humber in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Discussing how these comments fit together would be very interesting indeed.
    And lastly, I’ve never understood Matthew 7:6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Thoughts?

    • David Wilson says:

      Hey Derick,

      Kudos on finding an approach to completing the reading that suits your schedule/reading habits. I trust God will bless your endeavors.

      Love your questions, and desire for understanding. Here are a few thoughts:
      1. Righteousness surpassing the Pharisees — points towards the righteousness we have in Christ. His righteousness, which is given to us as a gift, surpasses the “filthy rags” of the Pharisees.
      2. Jerry preached an excellent series on the beatitudes you might want to check out. I believe the blessings described in the Sermon on the Mount aren’t a call to adhere to certain qualities, but a description of what is rendered to us in Christ.
      3. Rest — rather than striving to merit God’s favor, we rest in Christ, wearing his robes of righteousness. Abiding in Him is the easy yoke, I believe.
      4. Have to get back to you on the “pearls to pigs” passage. Someone else want to weigh in on that one?

  2. Derick, et al,

    Good questions. I’m only on Chapter 6, but plan on catching up today….. Let the slacker comments roll in.

    1. A rule of Biblical hermeneutics is that the Bible cannot contradict itself. Thus, any passages that appear to be contrasts or even contradictions have an explanation. We either may or may not be able to understand the explanation.

    2. The second rule that I come to find helpful is “interpret Scripture the way it presents itself,” i.e. the Psalms are poetry and songs, and not necessarily commands (unless they are expressly commanding us to praise) much of the Old Testament is story, and moral in nature, but not necessarily prescriptive (i.e. many moral lessons in Jeremiah, but few commands) and of course the letters of Paul are almost all practical doctrine and how to live, serve others in the local body. Jerry has used the word “genre” to describe the nuances and elements of the different types of Scripture as well as the methods for interpreting.
    3. What may help with the passages you reference is realizing that they are both descriptive (unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven) and prescriptive (commands) (be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.)
    4. Context is also helpful. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day and were well renowned for their works, which they falsely believed led to their righteousness. Jesus is saying your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees (the audience must have been thinking…how? The Pharisees are the most righteous ones around!) But he clearly is referencing that our works do not make us righteous. If the Pharisees aren’t righteous, then what the heck is righteous?
    5. And here is the glorious part, despite the fact that Jesus commands us to be perfect, and we are required to fulfill the law perfectly, HE HAS DONE IT FOR US ON THE CROSS! That is why we can come to him and rest. And amen.
    6. As are as the pearls before swine…Proverbs has similar verses about not rebuking the scoffer and how fools despise correction. I think (just a guess) it is referring to the man who will not change his ways after reproof after reproof. There may also be a nuanced slap at the Pharisees here too. Here’s Matthew Henry…

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/matthew/7.html

    See ya,
    Scott

  3. Daniel Collette says:

    Derek,
    Great questions, ones I’d be lying if I said I had all the answers to. 🙂 However, I’d HIGHLY recommend checking out the following two books:

    1. The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    2. The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of a Disciple by Daniel M. Doriani

    …both are on the Sermon on the Mount, and the former is one of my all time favorite books (if you haven’t read much Bonhoeffer, all of his writing is worth checking out. Seriously.). They address both of these questions, I believe, with satisfactory answers.

    “Indeed, the terms are so cutting that some scholars believe Jesus is using instructive irony, so that his intent is the opposite of his literal words. The sense, to paraphrase, would go this way: ‘IF you your criticisms as ‘pearls’ of wisdom and toss them at those whom you consider to be ‘swine’ and ‘dogs,’ those ‘swine’ will trample your ‘wisdom’ and those ‘dogs’ will perceive our attitude and turn and attack you.'” – Doriani

    I think considering the focuses of the Sermon on the Mount, e.g. humility, love, purity, humbleness, etc… this is a sensible answer. In other words, if you think your are above others, and your ideas are pearls, you will have a surprise in store for you. Namely, as my wife often tells me: “Dan, if you’re humble, you don’t have to worry about being humiliated. You are already on the bottom.” 🙂

    A brief note about the first questions… it’s important to remember that we can read scripture ourselves as fulfilled in Christ. So, when we read about the righteous man in the Psalms, we can read that knowing that Christ WAS the righteous man, and thus so are we in him! Similarly, Christ fulfilled the qualifications in the Sermon on the Mount, so through him, we also have. Because of this, we are free to do good out of love for Him. And when we don’t do good, we can continue our faith without missing a step because we’re already all of these things in Christ!! 🙂

    • David Wilson says:

      Great input.
      Thanks for your input on these questions Dan!

    • Derick says:

      Thank you for the thoughtful feedback. Thanks Dave for setting this up, because it is wonderful to have these discussions. Many of the comments are similar to the understanding I have come to on these issues, however, what a blessing it is to hear pooring out of the hearts of fellow believers relying upon the Spirit as we thirst for wisdom and understanding from our God. When I am alone with my thoughts as I read Scripture and authors like Bonhoeffer (whom I adore as well), I am quick to doubt myself and wonder if the conclusions I come to are for my own comfort (which may be the case at times). But as I throw out questions like I did and hear your thoughts, I am encouraged to find that the same Spirit at work in me is at work in you all, faithfully teaching and guiding despite my weak faith and doubt.

      I espcially appreciate the advice on how to systematically sift through the Scriptures, keeping in mind genre and context. It’s easy to get too narrowly focused and forget to consider each passage in light of the whole, which causes unnecessary confusion and misunderstanding. Thanks also for suggesting sermons and books to read/hear.

      Thank you very much, and I look forward to more rich discussion!

  4. Daniel Collette says:

    Derick, been meaning to respond to this… it was rad to see your reasons for asking questions. Too often it’s easy to make things say what you want them to, isn’t it? Very wise of you to get second opinions (something I could learn from your doing so)… and see that the same Spirit is indeed at work! 🙂

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