my books: friends & counselors #17

Never – repeat, never – ignore footnotes for gold is often found there. The penetrating question below appears as a footnote in one of my all-time favorite books, by one of my all-time favorite authors:

The scribes who pored so assiduously over Old Testament prophecies did not recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of those prophecies. Should not their failure to interpret signs of the first coming sound a note of caution to those today who so confidently proclaim signs of the Second Coming?

The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey (Zondervan Publishing, 1995); p.240

my books: friends & counselors #16


The OT … is more than the factual base out of which the NT is to be understood. The earliest Christians understood the OT as the very basis for achieving a proper relationship with God. …

Though the institutions of the OT have passed away, the theology of the OT remains. In fact, on it is built the theology of the NT. …

The church today suffers malnutrition if a part of its diet is not the theology of the OT.

Thomas Olbricht in The World and Literature of the Old Testament edited by John T. Willis (Sweet Publishing, 1979); pp.344-345

my books: friends & counselors #15

It was William Dyrness who opened my eyes – with the beauty and power of a well-chosen metaphor – to how the two testaments relate to each other.

One way of clarifying this relationship between the testaments is to liken the Bible to a symphony. All the basic themes of the symphony are presented in the OT and can seen and enjoyed on their own terms. All the reality of God’s self-revelation in creation and redemption comes to expression in these themes. There is a real movement of God toward humankind and a real fellowship between them – not just the promise of such movement and fellowship.

The NT then takes these themes, develops them and, while adding melody lines of its own, transposes the whole into a higher key, weaving everything together in a rich and beautiful way. What was a simple melody line in the OT – say, for example, the discouragement and provision of the wilderness wanderings – is picked up in another setting and made to enhance the NT revelation – as in Paul’s warnings and encouragement to the Corinthians Church (1 Cor. 10).

If we do not listen carefully to the OT we may miss some of the most moving melodies of the NT. So rather than seeing the OT as temporary or partial – something to be outgrown and discarded – we see its incompleteness more as cords calling for resolution, or, to change the metaphor, as plots calling for denouement. What the NT gives us then is does not really leave the OT behind so much as bring out its deepest reality. One has the feeling that in going ever more deeply into the reality of the OT one comes to the truth of the NT. The NT and the OT call for each other for their full self-expression.

Themes in Old Testament Theology by William Dyrness (IVP, 1977); pp.18-19

my books: friends & counselors #14

In devoting ourselves to Jesus, over time, our stories conform to his Story, our lives to his Life. From him we learn the waiting that enlarges, the giving that enriches, and the telling that enlightens. With him we experience the turning that blessedly humbles us, the dying to self that leads, and the rising that heartens our whole being. And in pouring out ourselves like him, we receive his transforming power.

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross (IVP, 2009); pp.321-322

my books: friends & counselors #13

In his comments on Leviticus 18-20, Timothy Willis reminds – and challenges – us to ever be consistent in our interpretation and application of Scripture.

These ideas about holiness provide an interesting test case for contemporary American Christians. Two of the primary passages concerning homosexuality stand in chapters 18 and 20, framing this chapter on holiness. Many speak out against homosexuality as an unholy state on the basis of those passages. Leviticus 19 challenges the same Christians to be just as vocal about treating aliens like citizens (19.34). The general context suggests that the violation of one of these commands defiles the believer as much as violation of any other command defiles. All derive from the same foundation, “I am the Lord your God.”

Leviticus by Timothy M. Willis (Abingdon, 2009); pp.172-173

my books: friends & counselors #12

Here is a guiding rule in all experiences of angels: angels that do not lead us to Jesus as King, Lord, and Savior are not spirits on God’s mission but false spirits. Angels in the Bible lead us to Jesus. Angel experiences that do not draw us to God’s Son must be held either loosely or not at all. Angel experiences may well lead people to think there is more than meets the eye or that there is a ‘hum’ of the divine all about us – but without taking us far enough. Frankly, the vast majority of angel experiences evoke transcendence at the most, but no element of leading a person to Jesus.

The Hum of Angels: Listening for the Messengers of God Around Us by Scot McKnight (Waterbook, 2017); p.125