Shelf Life Book Review: Four Views on the Apostle Paul

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones

Four Views on the Apostle Paul
Zondervan, 2012

This volume in Zondervan’s Counterpoints series offers four views on understanding Paul through his writings.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 11.01.11 PM.png

Each of the contributors addresses four thematic areas: Paul on salvation, Paul’s view of Christ, a theological framework for understanding Paul, and Paul’s beliefs on the nature of the Church.

Thomas R. Schreiner emphasizes the role of God’s sovereignty and the supremacy of Christ in Paul’s writing. Luke Timonthy Johnson highlights Paul’s surrounding Graeco-Roman culture and Jewish upbringing, noting especially Paul’s regular use of the Greek Septuagint when he cites Scripture. Douglas A. Campbell offers the “Post-New Perspective on Paul,” meaning that he seeks to go deeper into Paul’s “works of the law” phrase and implications for understanding Judaism. Mark D. Nanos, a Jewish scholar, seeks to establish that Paul has not completely forsaken his Jewish roots.

Reading Four Views feels like being at a coffee shop with four theologians. Each author responds to the others’ contributions so that the book includes its own commentary.

Peter wrote that some things in Paul’s writings are “hard to understand” (2 Pet 3:16). Four Views of the Apostle Paul proves to be a valuable guide for pastors, teachers, students or theologically informed laypeople who want to delve deeper into the sometimes-challenging theology of Paul.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 4

The Abandoned Child and the Basket Case

Michael S. Heiser

In modern stories people destined for greatness rarely start off privileged. They are dropped off at the doorstep of an orphanage or abandoned in the rain. This literary motif goes back to ancient stories, where writers use the abandoned child theme to identify a character who rises from obscurity to privileged hero status. It’s a motif found in the biblical account of Moses’ birth. But is that really the whole story?


Moses’ story begins when Pharaoh feels threatened by the growing Hebrew population in Egypt and commands that all Hebrew male infants be killed (Exod 1:16–22). Moses’ mother hides her newborn son for three months and then devises a risky but calculated plan: She sets him adrift on the Nile in a small basket made of bulrushes, waterproofed with bitumen and pitch (2:1–3). Moses’ older sister, Miriam, watches as the basket floats to where Pharaoh’s daughter bathes. God uses these circumstances to bring Moses under the protection of Egypt’s ruler (2:4–10).

Ancient literature outside the Bible attests to several stories in which a child, perceived as a threat by an enemy, is abandoned and later spared by divine intervention or otherworldly circumstance. Roughly 30 stories like this survive from the literature of ancient Mesopotamia, Canaan, Greece, Egypt, Rome and India.

The Mesopotamian work known as the Sargon Birth Legend offers the most striking parallels to the biblical story. It relates the birth story of Sargon the Great, an Akkadian emperor who ruled a number of Sumerian city-states around 2000 BC, centuries before the time of Moses. The infant boy is born into great peril: His mother is a high priestess, and he is illegitimate. Consequently, his mother sets him adrift on a river in a reed basket. The boy is rescued and raised by a gardener named Akki in the town of Kish. He becomes a humble gardener in Akki’s service until the goddess Ishtar takes an interest in him, setting him on the path to kingship.

Some assume that the biblical story of Moses’ birth was based on the Sargon Birth Legend, but this is unlikely. Although ancient Sumerian accounts of Sargon the Great date back to his lifetime, the legendary account of his birth is known from only four fragmentary tablets—three from the Neo-Assyrian period (934–605 BC) and one from the Neo-Babylonian period (626–539 BC).

During the Neo-Assyrian period an Assyrian king took the name Sargon II and likely commanded the legends to be written about his namesake (722–705 BC). By doing so, he would have linked himself to the ancient hero and glorified himself as a “revived Sargon” figure. This would suggest that the birth legend was composed for propaganda purposes well after the biblical story of Moses.

The existence of stories like the Sargon Birth Legend help us understand the biblical story. They show that the abandoned child theme was a popular literary strategy for the ancients. They used it to introduce a figure who rises from mundane origins after gaining favor from fate or the divine. The common elements in these rags-to-riches stories helped ancient audiences identify with the central figure and develop respect for his achievements.

Moses’ story is about more than parallels, though. While Moses briefly seems to find favor and protection in the household of Pharaoh, a quasi-divine figure for the Egyptians, his life takes a surprising turn. He ends up leaving the kingdom of Egypt fearing that Pharaoh will kill him. From there, the story is repatterned: In a wilderness of Midian, Yahweh appears to Moses, now an obscure shepherd “slow of speech and of tongue” (4:10). He tells Moses to act as His spokesperson before Pharaoh and lead His people out of Egypt.

Moses stands out against the stories of the ancient cultures because he isn’t promoted like their chosen figures, but saved and demoted to poverty so that he can lead others to salvation. He is the new archetype of the chosen hero—one who is promoted only for the benefit of others. Over and against the stories of worldly kingdoms, Moses’ story articulates God’s remarkable work for His kingdom. His values are different from ours, and as is often the case in retrospect, we can be grateful for that.

Biblical references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 1

Picking Locks

Rebecca Van Noord

When my siblings and I were very young, my parents refused to let us watch TV. When they finally gave in and purchased the looming black box they feared would suck hours out of our childhood, they placed it in a cabinet with locking doors. It was opened for movie nights on Fridays and closed for Saturday morning cartoons. I learned how to pick locks at a very young age.


But my parents trained me up in the way they thought I should go, and as an adult I rarely watch TV. It’s the reason I smile blankly when peers quote lines gleaned from popular sitcoms. I miss the association and thus often miss the point of their argument, or the poignant moment where they identified with a character or storyline—associations that would give me insight into their lives.

It was not until I started studying the Bible “in context” that I thought about these interactions in a different way. When we think of studying the Bible in context, we often think about studying the surrounding passages of a biblical text. We might include studying the stories that biblical writers drew on, like the exodus and the flood account, that speak of a faithful God and a foolish people as they grew and stumbled in faith. These contexts are helpful and necessary to interpret the text correctly. But is there another context we might be overlooking?

We don’t often think about the context in which ancient readers would have understood the text. Like us, they used literary forms and associations that helped communicate their ideas about God. Understanding their context helps steer us away from modern misapplications of Scripture. Noting the points where the biblical text makes abrupt, intentional turns often shows us how biblical writers were making a bold statement about God—how He is the one who saves, how He is faithful when others are not.

When we place the biblical text in its ancient context, there is danger in lodging it there. Will we assert ourselves over it, or will we seek to understand and be changed by it? We need not pick these locks to follow God faithfully—Scripture is sufficient for that.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 1

Discernment and Prayer

John D. Barry

Nehemiah 6:1–7:65; 1 John 5:1–5; Psalm 109:16–31

“For all of them sought to frighten us.… And now, God, strengthen my hands” (Neh 6:9).

While God calls us to “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]” (Matt 5:44), he also calls us to act with discernment and prayer. Loving others doesn’t mean we should be weak or passive. Part of loving others means discerning their hearts and motives.

“Blessed are the meek, because they will inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5). When Jesus spoke about being meek, He wasn’t referring to weakness. Instead, He was teaching us to focus on others rather than ourselves. That doesn’t mean we should be passive toward those who wish to harm us. Part of practicing meekness is being aware of our enemies and dealing with them cautiously. Doing so successfully takes strength and discernment—necessary components of any godly work.

Nehemiah demonstrates these traits in his interactions with his enemies. When his opponents ask him to meet with them, Nehemiah discovers that they actually wish to hurt him. He resists their attack—even calling them on their deceit (Neh 6:8).

Too often we allow ourselves to live passively. We enter into situations without thinking things through or recognizing that we’re about to be hurt by others. Yet we as Christians are at war against the evil in the world—not just against people, but also the unseen forces of evil (Eph 6:12). When we feel oppression, we must resist the urge to be reactive. Instead, we must appeal to Christ, who can overcome it all. We must refuse to engage unless it’s on our terms, by the power of the Spirit and completely in His will.

What battles are you engaging with that you should disengage from? Which situations in your life need discernment?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.

John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at

Shelf Life Book Review: The Bible Study Handbook

Elliot Ritzema

The Bible Study Handbook
IVP Connect, 2012

Lindsay Olesberg, Scripture manager for InterVarsity’s Urbana Student Missions Convention, shares wisdom and practical methods she has gleaned from years of inductive Bible study. For Olesberg, inductive study begins with the particulars of a passage and then moves to general conclusions (deductive study moves in the opposite direction: from the general to the particular). Inductive study can be done individually or in groups and consists of three phases: observation, interpretation and application.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.36.49 PM.png

The book is divided into three parts: “Foundations,” in which Olesberg shares the presuppositions behind inductive Bible study; “Building Blocks,” in which she shares the six components of inductive Bible study (honoring the author, respecting the story, attentiveness, curiosity, understanding and response); and “Tool Box,” in which she offers practical suggestions on a variety of topics, like how to study various genres or how to identify the structure of a book or passage.

Written with the hope of training “God’s people to study the Bible for themselves rather than relying on ‘professional Christians’ to explain it,” (pg. 28) this book will appeal both to Bible study beginners who are looking for a proven method of digging into the Bible, and to veterans who want to bring new vitality to their study of familiar passages.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 3

Paul, Pop Culture and the Gospel

Derek R. Brown

Growing up, I had limited experience interacting with people from other cultures. That all changed when I became a teaching assistant at a university in Vancouver, BC—a city where fewer than half of the residents speak English as their first language. Surrounded by university students from unfamiliar cultures and worldviews, I was plunged into the role of the outsider. I quickly realized how difficult it was to communicate ideas when two people don’t share first languages, backgrounds or cultural reference points.


As I studied Paul’s teachings and letters in graduate school, I learned to appreciate why God selected him for the role of apostle to the Gentiles. A “Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil 3:5) steeped in Old Testament traditions, Paul had to explain the gospel and its implications to people of mostly non-Jewish background. He was the perfect man for the task: Although raised a Jew, Paul was brought up in a Graeco-Roman context (e.g., Acts 21:39).

This background gave Paul an insider perspective into Graeco-Roman culture and the lives of those he was trying to reach. He engaged popular culture so he could better communicate the gospel.

Paul was familiar with the works of poets, playwrights and philosophers, and he often quotes them to make a point. For instance, he alludes to Stoic poet Aratus while speaking in the midst of the Areopagus in Athens, the center of Greek culture and philosophy: “ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring’ ” (Acts 17:28). Paul uses the quotation from Aratus to make an apologetic argument for God’s existence: If the Athenians are “God’s offspring” and alive, then God also must be living.

In 1 Corinthians 15:33 Paul cites a proverb often attributed to the Greek comic playwright Menander: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ ” Although several verses in the Old Testament make the same point (e.g., Psa 119:63; Prov 13:20; 14:7; 28:7), Paul found it more fitting to cite a popular writer to communicate with the Corinthians in familiar words. Paul did so to show them that their behavior was not based on the hope of resurrection in the future (1 Cor 15:33–34).

In his letter to Titus, Paul supports his view of the Cretan people by quoting their own prophet and teacher, Epimenides: “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Epimenides was regarded as a religious teacher and miracle worker. By appealing to his words, Paul demonstrated his knowledge of Cretan society and his ability to communicate biblical truths within their cultural context.

Paul’s use of cultural images and metaphors made the gospel accessible to a wider audience. For example, in 1 Corinthians 3:5–15 Paul turns to architectural metaphors to clarify his role in the church. In this passage Paul likens himself to a “wise builder” (sophos architékton, σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων; 3:10) who laid the one true foundation—Jesus Christ—in establishing the church in Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 9:24–27 Paul uses athletic imagery to describe his apostolic ministry. By describing himself as a runner and a boxer (9:24–27), Paul identifies with the Corinthians, who hosted the Isthmian games.

But literature and cultural concepts aren’t always compatible with the gospel. Some can even be corrosive to our understanding of the Christian faith. Can we still draw on such references without compromising people’s understanding of the gospel?

The writings of Paul help us out here as well. When confronted with Graeco-Roman ideas that oppose the gospel, Paul challenges his audience with Scripture and Christ’s supremacy.

In 1 Corinthians 1, he engages his audience in a debate over the meaning of “wisdom” (sophia, σοφίᾳ), which the ancient Greeks associated with philosophy and rhetoric. Paul believes that this association will lead them to hold him in poor esteem and, more crucially, discourage them from recognizing the wisdom of the cross.

Instead of accommodating this cultural concept, Paul refutes the Corinthians’ notion of wisdom. He asks, “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?” (1 Cor 1:20). He shows that true wisdom comes by God’s revelation—even when it appears to be foolishness (1 Cor 1:23)—and most profoundly through the “word of the cross” (1 Cor 1:18). The Corinthians’ culturally misguided notion of wisdom was the root of many of the church’s problems (e.g., divisions, jealousy and quarreling); Paul had to correct their definition before he could resolve these issues.

Paul used discernment to “translate” the gospel from one culture (Jewish) to another (Hellenistic). Like Paul, we must root our hearts and minds in the Bible; to reach others, we need to express the gospel through language they understand—images, concepts and stories of the places where God has called us to share the gospel. May He guide us by His Spirit and give us the wisdom to do so.

Interested in works from classical Greek and Roman poets and philosophers? Download Logos’ free Perseus Classics Collection at

Biblical references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 1

Jesus is God: Jude and Peter Tell Me So

Michael S. Heiser

The letters of Peter and Jude are often overlooked in preaching and Bible study. Not only are they nestled among the more popular letters of Paul and the book of Revelation, but portions of these epistles sound odd to our modern sensibilities. That wasn’t the case in the first century. We can better grasp the meaning of these letters if we understand what they have in common with influential ancient Jewish and Christian writings that were circulating at the time. One of those literary works is known to us today as 1 Enoch, a book Peter and Jude draw upon in their letters.

Jews and Christians of antiquity considered books such as 1 Enoch important resources for understanding biblical books and their theology. Peter and Jude were no exception. For example, Jude 14–15 draws directly from 1 Enoch.

1 Enoch 1:9


Behold, he comes with the myriads of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all, and to destroy all the wicked, and to convict all flesh for all the wicked deeds that they have done, and the proud and hard words that wicked sinners spoke against him. 1

Jude 14–15

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying,

“Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

All of the ideas found in 1 Enoch 1:9 can be found in three Old Testament passages (Jer 25:30–31; Isa 66:15–16; Zech 14:5). Rather than quote all three, Jude quotes the verse in 1 Enoch that combines them. But the real point of interest isn’t Jude’s succinctness; it’s his interpretation of 1 Enoch, as well as the Old Testament. In 1 Enoch 1:9 it is the “Great Holy One” (God) who is “coming with myriads of holy ones” from Sinai (1 Enoch 1:4) and who has promised to come to earth in the Day of the Lord for final judgment. For Jude (as well as Mark and Paul; compare Mark 8:38; 1 Thess 3:13), this event is transformed into the return of Jesus Christ (Jude 17–18). By naming Jesus as the one coming with the holy ones, Jude equates Jesus with the God of Israel. Jude’s citation of 1 Enoch is his efficient strategy for declaring that Jesus is God.

Peter also draws freely upon 1 Enoch; his first letter contains roughly 20 allusions to 1 Enoch 108. First Peter 1:7–18 illustrates how Peter uses 1 Enoch to teach and encourage his audience. The bolded text below shows these comparisons.

1 Enoch 108:6–10

Here are thrown the spirits of the sinners and blasphemers and those who do evil and those who alter everything that the Lord has said by the mouth of the prophets (about) the things that will be done. For there are books and records about them in heaven above, so that the angels may read them and know what will happen to the sinners and the spirits of the humble, and those who afflicted their bodies, … those who love God, and do not love gold and silver and all the good things that are in the world; but gave their bodies to torment;The Lord tested them much, and their spirits were found pure, so that they might bless his name.

1 Peter 1:6–12

You have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him.… Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully … but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look … conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold.

These similarities show how both 1 Enoch and 1 Peter encourage the faithful to persevere. Their love for God is an earthly drama watched by angels. But like Jude, Peter turns the object of this love in 1 Enoch—the God of Israel—to Jesus. Peter is encouraging those of Jewish heritage to continue following Christ.

These parallels show us that both Peter and Jude viewed Jesus as the God of Israel and leveraged a book currently not in our Bible to make that point. They wanted to strengthen the resolve of their readers to follow Jesus, the God of Israel revealed for them.

Biblical references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 1

1. Translation from George W. E. Nickelsburg and Klaus Baltzer, 1 Enoch: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), 142.

Learning from Enemies

John D. Barry

Ezra 3:1–4:24; 1 John 3:11–18; Psalm 106:16–29

If a new venture is really worth pursuing, it will probably be opposed. Some people will refuse to get on board, and others will intentionally get in the way. While these people may be trying protect their own interests, it’s more likely that they don’t like change—even if it’s for the better.

God’s work among His people is not that different from innovation; after all, He is the Author of all good ideas since all ideas come from His creation. And just like new ventures, God’s work is often rejected. The difference between new ventures and God’s work, though, is that all people who oppose God’s work are opposing Him, their Creator; they’re choosing to put their own interests before His interests, which are only for good.

Jeshua and Zerubbabel faced this type of opposition in the book of Ezra. After they had restored worship in Jerusalem, they began to organize the effort to lay the foundation of the temple—the place where God’s people were meant to worship. Then, the unexpected happened: Enemies arrived and began to cause trouble (Ezra 3:1–4:5). We often view such people as hateful, but in reality they were acting in their own interests. These enemies likely didn’t realize the land they claimed as their own had been stolen from God’s people in the first place; they probably thought they were protecting what was rightfully theirs (compare Ezra 4:6–16; see 2 Kgs 24–25).

This is often the case in our lives as well: We think we’re doing what’s legally or morally right, but we may actually be opposing God’s work. Sometimes trying to act rightly can lead us to do the wrong thing. Rather than insisting on what seems or feels right, we must pause to pray about it. We must ask God what He is really doing. And if God is working through someone else, we need to step out of the way. He is innovating—are we willing to innovate with Him?

In what ways is God innovating around you? How does He want to use you in this process? In what areas should you step aside to let His work happen?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.

John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at

Shelf Life Book Review: Lamentations and the Song of Songs

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones

Lamentations and the Song of Songs
Westminster John Knox Press, 2012

Harvey Cox and Stephanie Paulsell address the history of interpretation of these two biblical poems—from early Jewish interpreters to modern philosophers. Cox notes that these poems are not merely “time bound or event bound,” but “timeless” (pg. 24) since they speak to universal themes like seeking joy amidst heartbreak, deliberately remembering an absent one, and rebuilding among ruin.


Cox suggests reading Lamentations, a poem that laments a nation’s loss in the aftermath of war, in a “participatory mood” (pg. 15). As he highlights key themes, he brings Lamentations into dialogue with wars and aftermaths of wars today. Particularly illuminating are his applications of the book to World War II in Germany and 9/11 in the United States.

As Paulsell examines Song of Songs, she notes that it celebrates love in the context of a covenant relationship. She offers commentary passage by passage, giving summary titles for each. For example, Song of Songs 1:7–14 is titled “A Dialogue of Delight” (pg. 198), and 4:1–7 is titled “Altogether Beautiful” (pg. 231). Like Cox, Paulsell also calls us to devotionally pray our way through the Song of Songs, conscious of our relationship to other physical bodies, creation and God.

This commentary’s greatest strength lies in its emphasis on engaging the biblical text. Cox and Paulsell move fluidly across centuries and cultures as they connect Lamentations and the Song of Songs to current contexts.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 3

Getting Past the Past

Jessi Strong

My fiancé and I sat on the couch in our pastor’s office; he jiggled his foot nervously while I curled my legs underneath me and leaned against him. It didn’t matter that we were there by choice—I felt defensive even before the pastor began asking questions. I knew premarital counseling would help us learn how to communicate, fight fair and express love and forgiveness. But the experience was terrifying.


It was terrifying because it exposed all my failures. The parts of my personality I attribute to familial quirks are really glaring shortcomings. I tell myself that my inherited conflict-avoidance is really just “being cautious.” But it’s accompanied by a destructive tendency to shut down when things get tense. The painful experience of dredging up past conflicts forced me to take a fresh look at my sinful habits—ones I’m now trying to break, but wonder if I’m doomed to repeat.

Joshua 24 records a conversation that addresses a similar concern. In God’s presence, as Yahweh renews His covenant with Israel, Joshua recounts the spiritual history of the Israelites: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants’ ” (Josh 24:2–3).

What follows is an argument between Joshua and the Israelites. Joshua insists that the people will turn away from the LORD; the Israelites counter this, promising to serve faithfully. If you’ve read much of the Old Testament, you know that Joshua is right. The Israelites disobeyed God many times leading up to this covenant, and after they enter the promised land, they continue to perpetuate a cycle of disobedience, punishment and then, out of desperation, repentance. It’s a pattern I recognize in myself.

But when repentance follows cyclical mistakes, it opens the door for blessings that wouldn’t otherwise occur: forgiveness, restoration and redemption. In his first-century letter to churches in Asia, Peter reminds his readers that Christ’s work indeed brings them out of sin and death: “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Pet 1:18–19).

This reminder makes all the difference. I haven’t been charged with the unattainable task of making my own salvation. Instead, it comes through the blood of Christ. Although I may be heavily influenced by my unique experiences and relationships, I’m not doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over: Jesus’ work redeems my past and—thank God—my future.

In our counseling sessions, we learned to respond to fear and sin with the truth of Christ. After being hurt or having to make a very personal confession or realizing that we’ve caused hurt, we now pray together, using Peter’s reminder to the early churches: You are no longer a slave to sin. You were “redeemed from the empty way of life … with the precious blood of Christ” (1:19).

Biblical references are from the New International Version (NIV).

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 5 No. 1