Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible. Show all posts

Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Chosen: Mocking God?


At Bethlehem we have been watching The Chosen on Wednesday evenings. Last night we finished season  3.

There is no doubt that the show is well done. It is able to grab and hold your attention, which is a must for any show or movie. The additional story lines they have added to it are compelling enough to keep, even us who are very familiar with the Gospels, engaged and wondering what will happen next.

I think the main benefit of The Chosen is that it helps people to engage their imaginations as they consider what it would have been like to have walked along side of Jesus. For instance, watching Jesus perform miracles has given me a greater sense of awe and wonder as I think about what those events would have been like then simply reading the text. In this way The Chosen enhances my reading of the Gospels.

On the flip side is the reality that the show is the interpretation and harmonization of the events recorded in the Gospels by  a small group of people, if not just one guy. There are certainly things about the show I would argue about. I think the sending out of the 12 on their mission work happened too early. I also think the disruption in the Decapolis is implausible, since it is in Gentile territory I am not sure the disciples would have gone there on their mission trip. Jesus’ return to Nazareth just seemed odd to me, like  having Lazarus grow up with Jesus (having Jesus declare that he is the Law of Moses was a good touch, even though that was one of the most controversial things heading into season 3).

To be honest, when it comes to The Chosen, I am rather indifferent about it. I have enjoyed watching it, but I don’t feel compelled to keep watching it either.

I know some people who are big fans of the show. Which I think is good because there needs to be support of well done media that is influenced by and supports Christian faith.

I also know that the show has its critics. For example this critique that I saw on Twitter.

What? The Chosen is mocking God?

The Chosen is a TV show, it is not a commentary on Scripture and it is not adding to Scripture. It is attempting to tell a story, helping people engage their imaginations (which is an under utilized tool in discipleship).  Hopefully, this will help them arrive at a greater appreciate of the text the next time they hear it or read it.

I am positive that if you asked Dallas Jenkins if he thought the Gospels were lacking or were in some way imperfect he would say no. He has a desire to tell the story of Jesus in a way that grabs people’s attention, and hopefully feel compelled to read the Bible to discover the whole story.

Here Mr. Jolly made assumptions about the thoughts and motivations behind the show. Rather than being charitable with his assessment, he assigned evil motivations to the people creating it. Because he has a high view of Scripture (notice he is holding a Bible in his profile picture), he felt the need to protect the integrity and sufficiency of the Bible.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Bible and that I totally believe that the Bible is the word of God that He wants His people to have. The Bible reveals God’s wisdom and will to us. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, it renews our minds and transforms our lives. 

This is what I believe, yet, every week as I prepare sermons and lessons I think about how to communicate this wonderful book to people in a way that captures their attention and helps them on their discipleship journey. This work requires using illustrations, metaphors, and analogies to help  make the text understandable and applicable to the lives of those listening.

When a preacher or teacher of the Bible uses an illustration, does that mean he or she is judging the Bible to be lacking or boring? 

Of course not! 

It does show that the preacher or teacher understands that the Bible was written for us but not to us. In other words, the Bible was written to people in a different time and in a different culture, and what would have been understandable to them is not necessarily understandable to us. Therefore we need to do the hard work to understand it and explain it. The work God has called a preacher or teacher to do is to explain His word to people in a way that is understandable to them.

I believe that is similar to what Dallas Jenkins is doing with The Chosen

Is he doing perfectly? 

No, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t helping people understand a little bit better what it might have been like to follow Jesus 2,000 years ago.

The Bible is a wonderful book and the story of Jesus is a beautiful story. 

These realities should motivate us to make it as understandable as we can, whether creating a show about the life of Jesus, teaching about the parables, or preaching about the resurrection. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Asking for a Friend: How Much Influence Should the Bible Have on Morality?

Everyone has questions. Some questions we can find the answer with a quick search on Google. Other questions are more intimidating. Questions that surround our faith can be scary because we worry about what the answer might be and whether or not those answer will affect our faith. What ends up happening is that we ignore the question, but that question still lingers in the back of our mind.

In Asking for a Friend we want to look at a few of these questions and see if there is a way to provide an answer to them that will not only strengthen our faith, but also help us see the world through a more Christian perspective.

We are created in the image of God. One of the implications of that reality is that our standard for right and wrong comes from God and His character. To find out about God’s character we need to turn to the Bible, which is God’s revelation to His people. The Bible is essential in forming our morality to help us become the people God created us to be.

Text: Romans 2:13-16

Big Idea: The Bible shapes the beliefs and behaviors of God’s people as we influence the world.

Challenge: Read Ephesians 5:1-21 and (1) Confess sin (2) Think of a way to show love. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Asking for a Friend: Can I Trust the Bible?

Everyone has questions. Some questions we can find the answer with a quick search on Google. Other questions are more intimidating. Questions that surround our faith can be scary because we worry about what the answer might be and whether or not those answer will affect our faith. What ends up happening is that we ignore the question, but that question still lingers in the back of our mind.

In Asking for a Friend we want to look at a few of these questions and see if there is a way to provide an answer to them that will not only strengthen our faith, but also help us see the world through a more Christian perspective.

In the first sermon we answer the question, “Can I Trust the Bible?” 

This is the foundational question that must be answered before looking at any of the other questions. As Christians we want our beliefs to be rooted in Scripture, and if we can’t trust what the Bible has to say then it will be impossible to have a Christian answer to the questions that we have.

Text: 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Big Idea: We can trust the Bible to give us the truth we need to live as God’s people.

Challenge: Study Philippians with me at

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Philippians: Living is Christ

STOP — Philippians 1:21-30


Paul mentioned that his hope (verse 20) that whether by his life or death he would have the courage to bring honor to Jesus. He saw that he had two paths before him. If he continued to live he would be able to continue the work Jesus gave to him to do. If he died he would go to be with Jesus. Paul did not know which to desire. To live meant that he could continue to teach and encourage people to follow Jesus, but to die meant he could experience the delight of being in heaven with Jesus. 

As Paul waited to see what would happen he urged the Philippians to live as citizens of heaven (not just as citizens of Rome) so they could live lives that were worthy of the Gospel. To live this type of life required that they live united as they lived and proclaimed the Gospel. They would need unity and courage because they too would face suffering because of Jesus.


We need the commitment and courage to live by faith because of the hardships that will come our way.


  1. The dilemma for Paul was real. He loved people and wanted to see them become part of the Kingdom. He also was tired of the suffering he had experienced and was ready to be with Jesus. 
  2.  As long as we are alive in this world we need to remember that we have a job to do: make disciples. No matter what we need to continue to do what we can, that includes giving, praying, and living a faithful life.
  3. Paul urged the Philippians to live as citizens of heaven. As residents of Philippi they were also citizens of Rome. That was an honor, but Paul wanted them to understand their greater citizenship was to Heaven. They were to live the way God wants His people to live: with love, joy, peace, gentleness...and the rest.
  4. The Philippians were granted the privilege of suffering for Jesus. Why is this a privilege? It means that they were living in such a way that the powers of the world wanted to oppose them. When we live as citizens of Heaven, the powers of this world will oppose us. They do not want the light of our lives to shine in the darkness they have created.


Lord, grant me the courage and the faith to live a life that is worthy of Jesus.

Tomorrow: Philippians 2:1-4

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Bible is not an Answer Book

 I love the Bible. 

In fact, I believe that people who follow Jesus should be readers and students of the Bible. In the Bible we discover God, His character, and His will. 

Without the Bible we would not be able to follow Jesus or be the people God created us to be.

Last year I lead Bethlehem Church through The Story to give us a good overview of what the Bible is about. One of the things I constantly talked about through that series is that the Bible is gift from God. In all the 30 sermons I preached, I said, “We need to read, study, meditate on, and pray the Bible to be good stewards of the gift God has given to us.”

Even though I have a high view of Scripture, I also understand that it has limitations.

As modern readers of the Bible, we often approach it as if it has the answer to all of life’s questions. That is a primary reason why we  read and study the Bible: to have all the right answers.

Instead of viewing the Bible as an answer book, we need to see the Bible  as a tool to help create a worldview. It may not provide the answers to all the questions asked in our culture, but it does provide a framework that helps us create a Christian worldview.

I have been pondering how we use the Bible the past few days for a couple of reasons.

1. BibleProject has a podcast series that looks at ancient cosmology. One of the key points in the series is looking at how the Biblical account of creation is in dialogue and debate with the other ancient creation myths. 

Many Western Christians, for the past 120 years or so, have used the Bible to provide facts and answers about the beginning of the universe. The problem is that the Bible was not written to answer modern scientific questions. It was written to give God’s people a particular view of the world and to combat the pagan religious views of their neighbors.

Therefore, we shouldn’t expect the Bible to give us definitive answers about the how and when of creation, but we should expect it to give us an understanding about who God is and why He created the world.

2. Preston Sprinkle wrote:

If someone experiences and congruent between their biological sex and their gender, which one determines who they are—and why? What does the Bible say about this question?

That’s the problem. The Bible doesn’t directly ask and answer this question. There’s no verse in, say, Leviticus 28 that says, “If thy gender identity does not match thy biological sex, then thine body is who you really are.” Or whatever. (There is no Leviticus 28, in case you are flipping pages to check.) But the Bible does say quite a few relevant things about human nature and the importance of our biological sex which will position us to cultivate a theologically informed and biblically rooted answer to our question. (Embodied, p. 63)

After doing lots of research, Sprinkle admits that the Bible doesn’t contain the answers to the questions surrounding the transgender conversation. You can’t compile a list of verses that deal specifically with these issues. 

Not only is this true for the transgender conversation, but it is true for many of the questions we have today. Our culture is significantly different from the cultures that the Bible was originally written for. We shouldn’t expect to to have answers to our modern questions.

Since the Bible is God’s gift to His people, we can expect that it will give us a proper perspective to see the world.

It is important to make this shift away from seeing the Bible as an answer book to one that helps us create a Christian worldview.

God did not give us the Bible so we can have all the right answers. 

Rather, He gave us the Bible so we can become the right type of people. 

If we primarily use the Bible to have the right answers, to win arguments, and to point out other people’s sin then we are using the Bible wrong.

The Bible should help form us into the people God created us to be. One of the ways it does that is to create a proper perspective for us to see the world.

Let the Bible form your worldview.

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...