Darrell Bock – How to present the Bible to a culture that does not appreciate it for the precious revelation that it is – Dallas Seminary podcast + A new book

Link to Darrell Bock academic books here. Link to Darrell Bock website here. Also, see at bottom of page Darrell L. Bock‘s new book – Release Date: 06/04/2012 „A Theology of Luke and Acts”. God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations. Series: Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series

Even though we are like the millions around us, we are also different. Different from the inside. The Bible is profound because in its message and through it’s Spirit, it changes us and makes us into something different, something privileged, what the Bible calls saints. We’re not talking about the Bible in abstract, we’re talking about the Bible in practice. The most profound way to present the story  (personally) is by being an audio-visual of what God is about, life lived from the inside out so it shows itself to be engaged with all of life. That’s why we are called it’s ambassadors of the message. That’s the portfolio – showing the new creation by being the new creation and it’s more than an abstraction of theology.

Dr. Darrell Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies; Professor of Spiritual Development and Culture, DTS, explains that he believes the Bible because it is the defense of the message I have as an ambassador of Christ that allows to keep the point. It is my ambassadorial dossier. Published on Mar 30, 2012 by 

Dr. Darrell Bock is professor of New testament Studies and professor of Spiritual Development and Culture. Darrell has earned national and international recognition as a Humboldt Scholar, an honor program at Tubingen University in Germany for his work in historical Jesus studies , especially in Jesus’ examination before the Jewish leadership at His trial. He also has done extensive commentary work on the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. In 2001 Dr Bock has served as President of the Evangelical Theological Society and he continues to serve as Editor at large for Christianity Today magazine.

Darrell L. Bock – Why I believe the Bible

I am here to talk abut this: It’s the Bible! We are here to study it, we’re here to know it and hopefully reflect in our lives what it teaches. For us, it is a privileged book: inspired, inerrant, the very word of God. I deeply believe that for a host of reasons. But today I want to explore a different question.

How do I preach a book I believe is privileged to a culture that does not believe it is privileged?

 It is no secret that in our culture the Bible is no longer a privileged book. People challenge it. Discussion surrounds it. Everywhere, there are efforts to argue that it is anything but inspired. So, I want to explain why the Bible is important, and even why I believe in the Bible and how to present it to a culture that does not appreciate it for the precious revelation that it is. You might think that I’ll launch into an apologetic as to why I think that the Bible is inerrant, 645,223 reasons why I believe the Bible. I believe those things deeply but that’s not where I want to go.

Rather I want to make a case that where the Bible is not a privileged book, it speaks to reality in a way that shows it is privileged. It comes from the heart of God. It is self disclosing, not merely because of the facts in it, but because of the profound divine, human account it gives. My homiletical idea is simply this: In a world where the Bible is not privileged, it is the profundity of the Bible’s message that shows the Bible is the fully inspired word of God.

Profundity revealed with faithfulness discloses the uniqueness of God’s word and it addresses our own reality at the same time, privileging God and His creation, at the same time. Privilege is revealed in profundity, in declared and lived profundity. But, I start with a contrast, a meta narrative, told with humor, which show where much of our world is and what culture thinks about why we are here. Bock shows a video clip from „Everybody loves Raymond”. „Who knows why we’re here?” That’s what the popular show declares.

It’s not very different then when Seneca spoke centuries ago; the stoic roman philosopher who lived in the first century, at the same time as Jesus, said this about life and death. In effect, it all doesn’t mean very much. We’ll just have to see how it all turns out in the end. Listen to the words of Seneca in his letter 26, as he muses about life and death: „I imagine to myself that the testing time is drawing near, that the day that is going to see judgement pronounced on the whole of my past life has actually arrived and I take a look at myself and address myself in these terms: All that I’ve done and said up til now, counts for nothing. My showing today, besides being heavily varnished over is of paltry value and reliability as a guarantee of my spirit. I’m going to leave it to death to settle what progress I’ve made. Without anxiety then, I’m making ready for the day when tricks and disguises will be put away and I shall come to a verdict on myself, determining whether the courageous attitudes I adopt are really felt or just so many words. And whether or not the defiant challenges I’ve hurled at fortune have been mere pretense and pantomime.”

Not much profound here, either. Just make the best of what you can in life and see what it will add up to. Hope for the best. Know death comes to all of us and we do not know when, but in the end, nothing will matter. That conclusion is the result of a life lived disconnected from the Creator and from the creation. It’s not a very profound declaration. It’s an empty manifesto, echoing what Ecclesiastes says to us in much of its message: It’s all empty. The net result is not much in terms of real direction of why we are here whether we trust Raymond or Seneca. But at least, Seneca was contemplating the options. Contrast that effort at reflection to our own culture. What some have called: A super flat culture.

Listen to this analysis of our modern and post modern culture by Australian pastor Mark Sayers: Such a culture is why people often miss what the Bible has to offer. And here’s what he says about the super flat culture we live in: We are offered a culture that is a million miles wide, in terms of opportunities, freedoms and consumer choice, yet, it is spiritually an inch deep. Our spiritual voice is being strangled. Our culture is spiritually super flat because of 3 main reasons I can discern:

  1. Any big discussion about deep and spiritual existential issues of life are off the agenda in the public square.
  2. Western culture is a spiritually flat culture in which our need for mystery, transcendence, revelation and a sense of „the other” is repressed.
  3. Our culture is a culture in which everything in life is viewed through a lens of suspicion

The combination of these factors present us with never before experienced missional challenges. They are also the reason so many Christian young adults are choosing to leave active faith. He goes on to say: In a super flat culture where nothing matters, we escape into obsessions and hobbies, interests that bear little or no consequence. In a commodified culture, we move and shift around meaning, giving way to things that do not deserve mountains of time and attention. The 21st century will be a century marked by conspicuous consumption, and a flagrant misuse of time.With religion off the agenda, our culture finds new avenues of devotion and distraction. Instead of moving us towards relationship and people, the eminent, super flat culture pushes us towards things. Millions of hours in the 21st century will be spent working through DVD/TV series, scanning social network sites, gorging on celebrity gossip, downloading music, flipping through home magazines and playing computer games. Things will take precedence over people. Meaningless activities will overtake our lives.

There’s nothing wrong with interest in hobbies in the right place, but the 21st century  culture will gorge on such activities. The real reason for human existence that have sat front and center of the human consciousness have been in the super flat, eminent world shoved aside. They have been too heavy to be carried on the road. Instead we buzz along the surface of life, never venturing below the surface. That’s why he calls it the super flat culture in a book that is coming out, called „The Road Trip”.

The best way to get to the Bible’s depth is to allow it to tell its story, clearly and powerfully

In the face of such missional challenges, the best way to get to the Bible’s depth is to allow it to tell its story, clearly and powerfully. We can show what it looks like by how we live. So, we live in a world that’s not sure why it’s here. The Bible has a profound and completely different message to tell and it says that you and I are ambassadors of that key message. The Scriptures reveal needs all people have. And so, the book of privilege gives us a place of privilege and in the process tells the story of why we are here.

That is the major reason I believe the Bible. It has a profound story to tell that the world does not know. It has a profound story to tell that tells us human beings why we have a story to tell and it’s a story that people may be slow to hear  and even conditioned not to hear. But you are here (at DTS) to learn how to tell it, noting the extent to which God has gone to return us to Himself. It’s a profound story that says God supplies what we lack and so the bridge to Him can be rebuilt, because He rebuilds it by his grace. It’s a positive message, not a negative one and it’s not about a mere momentary transaction, nor is it about avoiding something, it’s about reconnecting to the living God. Sometimes, when I hear the Gospel presented in the church, I think of the old actor Jimmy Cagney. Jimmy Cagney used to say: „You dirty rat. You shouldn’t be doing that. You’re the one that killed my brother”. Sometimes I listen to the Gospel message and I hear this tone that comes across. It’s a negative tone, it’s not a very positive tone. It’s an accusatory tone as if we have to convince people that they are sinners. Most people are quite aware of it, they just don’t want to face up to it.

In the midst of doing that, the message comes across negative and I ask myself: Where’s the Gospel in that? Other times we present the Gospel in such a way a kind of like Neo in the matrix, where we’re dodging bullets. And the Gospel IS about avoiding a negative, a very hot place. In the midst of presenting the Gospel as if it’s avoiding something, we completely lack to present something: That the Gospel is about gaining everything. It’s about reconnecting with the living God for life.

That was a huge introduction. There is one simple text that I want to return to and it’s in 2 Corinthians 5. This one verse leads into the profundity that I am talking about. It’s a simple verse. It says: „Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. we plead for you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”. I want to make 3 points out of this text:

  1. Our position: Ambassadors. We are representatives of God in all that we say and do. We have been given a very privileged calling. I want to share an experience back when I was dealing with the DaVinci code. I got invited to a Bible study at the United Nations. It was an interesting experience. I had been there before, through the many metal detection checks, but this time I was an invited person so I got direct access into the middle of one of the key rooms at the UN. I was interacting with some of the ambassadors, who came from all kinds of countries. I had direct access, an access I normally don’t have. When I think about this text, I think about access that I permanently have to the living God, to represent Him in a task that is much greater than anything the United Nations ever takes up. We have a uniquely privileged position in being called to ministry. We also have a representational role. We don’t have to go through any metal detectors because God is the one who called us and we have a rare privilege to represent Him in a world that needs a profound message, that is the Scripture.
  2. The tone. Look at the text: „Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ”. It’s as though God were making His plea through us: „we plead with you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God”. Much of the sound that comes out of the church today, I am sad to say, is crass. It’s harsh. Now, there is a role in challenging the culture. There’s a role that’s necessary in that. But, if it isn’t balanced with the love of God and the compassion of Christ and the sacrifice and service that God extends even to those who reject Him. If we do not love our enemies, as Christ said, and enter into a plea with the world, then the road she is traveling down is horribly self destructive. You do not honor the tone of this text. This text is a summary text that kind of summarizes the entire message of everything we’ve been given in the portfolio that God has handed to us. It says we are keepers and passers on of His profound message of Salvation. So our tone is one of an invitation and of a pleading. My hope is that wherever you minister, once you are done here (at DTS), and one day that eschatological moment will happen, my hope and prayer is that your tone will be an invitation into the love of God and the grace of God, and the care of God, and the compassion of God and the severe mercy of God.
  3. Reconciliation – Reconciliation assumes a break in a relationship. What’s really exciting about the message that the Scripture has for us, is that God has given the provision to fix that break. The exhortation is: Be reconciled to God. We don’t have to reconcile ourselves to Him, we simply enter into the reconciliation that He has provided. That is the beauty of a passive verb. God’s the one who does it and that reconciliation brings life and enablement. In fact, the profound message of the Scripture is that we can get back to life by getting back to God. It means knowing Him. In His final prayer, almost like a last will and testament, when Jesus is praying before He goes to the cross in john 17:3, He gives thanks for the fact  that this is eternal life: to know the Father and know the Son. Or in another summary text in Romans 1:16 we’re told that Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel because it is the power of God unto salvation. It’s not just salvation, it’s the power of God unto salvation and if you read Romans, you will see that in that passage power is expressed by taking someone who is dead in trespasses and sins, an absolute corpse, justifying them , raising them up, giving them a position in which the Spirit of God is in them, so that by chapter 8 they’re walking in the will of God and there’s no need for law, because they’re following what God asks them to do. They’re reconnected to the Father. They’ve come back to life. If we read texts in Luke, what we see is that John, the Baptist prepared the world for this message and the coming of Christ by being given a calling to turn Israel back to her God. What’s interesting, when you read that text, in context- take a look at Luke 1:16-17, you will see that in turning themselves back to God, in the next verse the point is made that fathers are turned back to children and the disobedient are turned to obedience. We tend to think of repentance as something that happens privately between us and God. But the Scripture is reflecting that repentance is something that happens between us and God so that it impacts all the relationships that we have. So much so, that when we come to Luke 3 and John the Baptists is asked: What should we do ?as people enter into the Baptism that he represents. Every answer has to do, not with the person, how they are relating to God, but how the person is relating to their neighbor. What we see is an ethical core, a profundity to the Scripture that says: By relating properly to God, you not only fix that, you fix everything around you, in terms of your relationships. So we issue a plea: Know God, so you can have life. Know God so you can truly love others. It is simple, it is profound. The profound book tells a privileged story, of a privileged people who know why they are here. We tell the story by declaration and we tell it by representation.

Even though we are like the millions around us, we are also different. Different from the inside. The Bible is profound because in its message and through it’s Spirit, it changes us and makes us into something different, something privileged, what the Bible calls saints. We’re not talking about the Bible in abstract, we’re talking about the Bible in practice. The most profound way to present the story  (personally) is by being an audio-visual of what God is about, life lived from the inside out so it shows itself to be engaged with all of life. That’s why we are called it’s ambassadors of the message. That’s the portfolio – showing the new creation by being the new creation and it’s more than an abstraction of theology.

In the Nicene creed, God is powerfully confessed. He is confessed to a certain degree, in the abstract. I love the Nicene creed. We recite it at our church. But, left to itself, abstract theology and teaching can have a hole. You see, there’s not a word in the Nicene creed about how we live. Theology without ethics and spiritual formation is not a theology that really reveals the profundity of Scripture in the new life because life as it was designed to be lived, WAS designed to be lived and to show itself. It has to move past the cover of a super flat culture that might exist if we just play with the iPad. So tell the story, live the story , show by what you say  how profound Scripture is. Reveal it in word and in deed, reveal its reality and show that it is inspired by God by showing how God changes lives. In a world where the Bible is not privileged, the best way to make the case for the Scripture is to call attention to its profound attention to life’s core realities, to live its truth. Privilege is revealed in declared and lived profundity. That is the ultimate assignment and it is a final exam we will all take. We represent our King in the world, we are to take up the call and you shave the privileged role to take this privileged message to point people to the privilege of knowing Him. That message will be found nowhere else. You won’t find it from modern culture and you won’t find it from Seneca. So, believe it, preach it, live it. The message of Scripture is far different from Seneca and it can be summarized in the last verse of the hymn we sang at the beginning of this message:

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

A Theology of Luke and Acts

God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations

Series: Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series

Release Date: 06/04/2012

Synopsis:A Theology of Luke and Acts–the second volume in Zondervan’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series–offers an in-depth analysis of these two books. Examining Lukan themes, language, and the books’ context within the Bible, Darrell L. Bock offers an indispensable resource to biblical scholars.  SEE SECOND VIDEO ON THIS PAGE for more. Order here.

Link to Darrell Bock academic books here.

Link to Darrell Bock website here.

Darrell L. Bock on the Gospel and Holy Spirit in Luke and Acts

…and here’s Darrell Bock talking about his new book „A Theology of Luke and Acts”. Leading New Testament scholar Darrell L. Bock, author of „A Theology of Luke and Acts” chats with Mark L. Strauss in this clip (5 of 5) about key topics related to his highly anticipated new work. „A Theology of Luke and Acts” explores the theology of Luke’s gospel and the book of Acts. In his biblical writings, Luke records the story of God working through Jesus to usher in a new era of promise and Spirit-enablement so that the people of God can be God’s people even in the midst of a hostile world. It is a message that still fits the church today. Bock both covers major Lukan themes and sets forth the distinctive contribution of the Luke-Acts collection to the New Testament and the canon of Scripture, providing readers with an in-depth and holistic grasp of Lukan theology in the larger context of the Bible. Find out more: http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com…. Published on Apr 27, 2012 by 

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