Short A.J. Jacobs lecture – great for hermeneutics courses!

In my OT and NT intro courses, I do a couple of lectures on basic hermeneutics, especially the matter of why Christians have a hard time figuring out why we obey some commands, but not others. As an opener for this subject, I usually make mention of A.J. Jacobs’ book, A Year of Living Biblicallywhich chronicles Jacobs attempt to obey all the hundreds of commands in the Bible. As he well notes, it is impossible. The more important question is – is it necessary? Is that what the Bible is all about? At the end of it all, was Jacobs a better Christian (or Jew or whatever)? My answer is, no, that is not what the Bible is for, and that does not make you a better Christian per se.

Anyway, it is really helpful (especially for those who have not read the book, including most of my students) to hear from Jacobs about his experience. So, I found a short (17 minute) lecture that summarizes his experiment and experience. There is much in this entertaining lecture to discuss and debate! I am definitely going to show it (or maybe 12 minutes or so of it) in class.

Note – A.J. Jacobs had and has a lot of the same questions and misconceptions about the Bible that my students do, so his perspective and experience is especially interesting and relevant. I actually rarely show video clips by Bible scholars.

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2 thoughts on “Short A.J. Jacobs lecture – great for hermeneutics courses!

  1. A HERMENEUTICS LESSON

    HERMENEUTICS IS THE SCIENCE OF INTERPRETATION OF THE SCRIPTURES. ISOLATING VERSES OF SCRIPTURE TO PROVE A POINT OF DOCTRINE IS A COMMON PRACTICE, BUT IT IS NOT A VALID SCIENTIFIC APPROACH TO UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WORD.

    Let us answer the question: What must I do to be saved under the terms of the New Covenant? All Christians from the Day of Pentecost, until the present, were and are saved under the terms of the New Covenant, also called the New Testament.

    WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?

    1. Believe in Jesus. (John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.)

    Is this verse true? Yes, but does it include all the requirements for salvation? No, it does not. It does not say that all you have to do to be saved is believe in Jesus. Even demons believe that Jesus is the Son of God.(Luke 8:26-31)

    2. Believe and be baptized. (Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.)

    Is this verse true? Yes, but it does not detail all that men have believe and do to be saved.

    3. Confess and believe. (Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;)

    This verse is true, but is does not include all of the requirements for salvation.

    4. Call on the name of the Lord. (Acts 2: 21 ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’)

    Is this verse true? Yes. Does this verse explain the meaning of calling on the name of the Lord? No, it does not. All of the relevant verses concerning salvation and forgiveness of sin are needed to understand what is meant by calling on the name of the Lord. Being obedient to the gospel is calling on the name of the Lord. Saying the man-made sinner’s prayer is not calling on the name of the Lord. There is no verse of Scripture that includes a sinner’s prayer under the New Covenant.

    5. Be born of water and Spirit.(John 3:5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.)

    Is this verse true? Yes, but it does not explain the process to be born of water and the Spirit.

    6. By grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;)

    Is this verse true? Of course it is. We have the opportunity for salvation because of God’s grace, however, this verse does not say that we are saved by grace alone nor does it say we are saved by faith only. Salvation is the gift mentioned in this verse.

    7. Be buried with Christ in baptism. (Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in the newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,)

    Are these verses true? Yes, but baptism alone is not the only requirement in order to walk in newness of life. Unsaved men do not walk in newness of life. We are told to walk in a new life after we are baptized. We are not told to walk in a new life the minute we believe. Water baptism is the final step to becoming saved.

    8. Water baptism. (1 Peter 3:21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.)

    Is it true that water baptism saves us? Yes, but this verse does not say, baptism alone, saves us.

    9. Be baptized calling on His name. (Acts 22:16 Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name!)

    Is this verse true? Yes, but it does not list all of the requirements for salvation?

    10. Repent. (Acts 3:19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.)

    Is this verse true? Of course it is, however, it is not all one has to do to have sins forgiven. Repentance is making the intellectual commitment to turn from sin and unbelief and to turn toward God.

    11. Baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.)

    Is this verse true? Yes, however, you cannot be baptized into Christ unless you believe, confess, and repent prior to being baptized. You are not clothed with Christ the minute you believe. You are not clothed with Christ the minute you confess. You are not clothed with Christ the minute you repent. You are clothed with Christ the minute you are baptized into Him.

    12. Repent and be baptized. (Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.)

    Is this verse true? Yes, but is does mean that you can have your sins forgiven without having faith and confessing Jesus as the Son of God? No.

    13. Believe in the Lord Jesus. (Acts 16:30-31…”Sirs what must I do to be saved? 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”)

    Is this verse true? Yes, however, it doe not state that men are saved by “faith only.”

    WHAT DOES GOD DO SO YOU MAY BE SAVED?

    1. God provides a Savior in Jesus Christ. (1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.)

    2. God makes His grace available to all men. (Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.)

    WHAT MUST YOU DO TO BE SAVED?

    1. You must believe. (John 3:16)

    2. You must confess. (Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:37)

    3. You must repent. (Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19)

    4. You must be baptized. (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38)

    WHAT MUST YOU DO TO SAY SAVED?

    1. You must remain faithful until death. (Revelation 2:11, Matthew 10:22)

    ——————————————————————————

    The Bible says we are saved by grace. It does not say we are saved by grace alone.

    The Bible says we are saved by believing in Jesus. It does not say we are saved by faith alone.

    The Bible says we are saved by confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead. It does not say that confessing Him and believing in His resurrection alone, that we will be saved.

    The Bible does say we must repent in order to have our sins forgiven. The Bible does not say that repentance alone saves us.

    The Bible teaches us that water baptism is for the forgiveness of sins and that it saves us. It does not say that water baptism alone saves us.

    In a honest hermeneutical approach to the question “What are we saved by? The answer has to include the following:

    GRACE
    FAITH
    REPENTANCE
    CONFESSION
    WATER BAPTISM

    Which one of God’s requirements for salvation can we eliminate and still be saved?

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