Cain and Abel: A Story of Rebellion, Judgment, and Grace

ZA Blog on 6 months ago. Tagged under ,.

genesis

The story of Cain and Abel is one of sibling rivalry and murder. It’s shocking to realize that there is only one generation between the Bible’s story of creation and the first homicide. Mankind’s descent into sinfulness was fast and severe.

Cain and Abel each bring God a sacrifice. When God shows disappointment in Cain’s sacrifice and pleasure in Abel’s, Cain kills Abel with a stone.

God confronts Cain about murdering his brother. Cain lies about it. And God exiles him to the land of Nod, east of Eden.

This brief account in the Bible is just 16 verses long, but it paints a powerful picture of sin, judgment, and surprisingly, grace. Renowned Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III explores this famous passage in his online course on Genesis.

The following post is adapted from…

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Abraham and Isaac: A Test of Faith

ZA Blog on 6 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,,.

genesis

In Genesis 22, God tests Abraham’s obedience by asking him to sacrifice Isaac, his only son.

To modern readers, this passage and this test feels like a nightmare. Why would God ask Abraham to do that? And why would Abraham be willing to go through with it?

Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III explores this challenging passage in his online course on the book of Genesis. The following analysis is adapted from his course.

But first, let’s look at the passage itself.

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Who Wrote the Book of Genesis?

ZA Blog on 6 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

genesis

Moses is traditionally considered the author of Genesis. But for over two centuries, one of the most contested questions in biblical scholarship has been “Who wrote the Book of Genesis—and when?”

Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and one of the five books of the Pentateuch. Several other books of the Pentateuch include passages that mention Moses recording events and writing down what God says. The authors of the New Testament—and even Jesus himself—appear to credit Moses as the author of Genesis.

So why don’t scholars agree?

There are passages in Genesis that Moses could not have written, because they describe events that happened after his death, known as postmosaica passages. And there are others that would simply be awkward for Moses to write, which are referred to as amosaica (such as Numbers 12:4).…

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10 Ways the Bible Uses Apologetics

ZA Blog on 7 months ago. Tagged under .

Apologetics

Apologetics is how we logically and philosophically justify our beliefs in the Bible and Jesus. These arguments draw from a wide range of fields and use a variety of persuasive techniques.

Does the Bible itself provide a universal, context-free, step-by-step apologetic system we can apply to any and every apologetic situation? No. But it does offer tools and principles we can apply to our current cultural location, enabling us to think biblically about apologetics.

In their online course, Apologetics at the Cross, Joshua D. Chatraw and Mark D. Allen explore how the Bible creates persuasive arguments, showcasing methods, strategies, and principles that can shape our own arguments and reasoning today.

The following post is adapted from their course.

1. The cross is the best argument for Christianity

If ever there has been a proof-text against apologetics, it…

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What Is Presuppositional Apologetics?

ZA Blog on 7 months ago. Tagged under .

Apologetics

Presuppositional apologetics is one of the four main approaches to apologetics, along with classical, evidential, and experiential or narratival apologetics. Each of these approaches places a different emphasis on the roles of reason and special revelation (such as Scripture or miracles) in apologetics.

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Presuppositionalists are not very optimistic, if not altogether negative, about what reason apart from special revelation can achieve. Presuppositionalism asserts that reasoning does not take place in a vacuum; rather,…

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What Is Systematic Theology?

ZA Blog on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,.

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

As Dr. Wayne Grudem explains it, “systematic theology is any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic.”

This highly organized, topical approach to exploring Scripture is so important that most seminaries require at least one systematic theology course in their degree programs (sometimes called “doctrines” courses). Many of these courses utilize Grudem’s work.

We’ve adapted this post from Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology online course to help answer the question “what is systematic theology, and why should I care?”

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11 Things to Know about the Doctrine of the Trinity

ZA Blog on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Trinity

To contemplate the Trinity is to lift up your heart and to “set your mind on the things above” (Col. 3:2).

It’s easy to turn doctrinal discussions into strictly intellectual affairs, but as Dr. Fred Sanders teaches in The Triune God course, we need to do so “in a way that enlists the reader’s strict and holy attention for what is essentially a spiritual exercise.”

Any discussion of trinitarian doctrine is an attempt to more deeply understand the character and nature of God.

If we’re interested in discovering (and maintaining) an orthodox understanding of the Trinity, there are some principles we need to understand.

These 11 things you need to know about the doctrine of the Trinity are adapted from his course:

1. The revelation of the Trinity comes with the revelation of the gospel.

The doctrine of the…

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How Did We Get the Old Testament?

ZA Blog on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,,,.

Old Testament

The Old Testament is thousands of years old, and contains accounts stretching back to the beginning of time. This ancient collection of books provides the foundation of both Judaism and Christianity.

So where did it come from? How did these age-old traditions, stories, and commandments make their way to modern times? These are important questions.

John Walton and Andrew Hill answer these questions in their Old Testament Survey online course. The following post is adapted from their unit on the background, history, archaeology, and formation of the Old Testament.

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Guide to the Attributes of God

ZA Blog on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

Between the things God says and does, what other people say about him, and the life of Jesus, the Bible gives us numerous descriptions of God’s character. These passages are often sorted into “attributes of God,” a biblical framework we can use to talk about what God is like and how we know that. Exploring the attributes of God helps us prepare for evangelism, learn church doctrine, and most importantly, understand who God is.

There are several different methods for categorizing God’s attributes. This post will use the most common classification system, adapted from Wayne Grudem’s online systematic theology course.

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What Is the Soul? Is It Different from the Spirit?

ZA Blog on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,,.

Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

Religious or not, most people believe they have some form of a soul. Whether they loosely believe in a concept like “the human spirit,” or they believe part of them will live on when their body expires, these beliefs about body, spirit, and soul all come from somewhere. You might be surprised to learn that much of what people believe about the soul or spirit doesn’t come from the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t neatly define the concepts of spirit and soul for us, so in order to know what it’s saying, we need to piece together all the clues it gives us. In his online systematic theology course, Dr. Wayne Grudem has done just that to reveal how the Bible answers, “What is the soul?” and “What is the spirit?”

The following post is adapted from Grudem’s course.

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Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: How Is One God Three Persons?

ZA Blog on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,,.

Trinity

If you ask the average Christian to define the Trinity, more often than not they’re going to give you a similar response: “The Trinity is one God in three persons.” While there will likely be some slight variations in how it’s stated, two words will almost always be present: “God” and “persons.”

It’s easy to understand why “God” would be part of every definition. The whole Trinitarian discussion revolves around what we can know and understand about God. When we discuss the Trinity, we’re discussing God.

But did you ever stop to wonder why “persons” is the accepted term for the distinctions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Why not three “manifestations,” “modes,” or “beings?” The truth is that the term “person” wasn’t landed on haphazardly. Theologians have labored throughout church history to accurately define the Trinity.

What follows…

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What the Bible Tells Us About the 10 Plagues of Egypt

ZA Blog on 10 months ago. Tagged under ,.

The fifth plague

One of the Bible’s most dramatic scenes plays out in a showdown between God and an Egyptian Pharaoh, resulting in 10 nightmarish plagues. The Hebrew nation that God formed to worship and represent him was enslaved in Egypt, and he was demanding their release through his servant, Moses.

As Pharaoh continues to resist Moses, God inflicts upon Egypt a series of plagues. As the standoff drags on, the plagues become more severe, eventually escalating to the death of all of Egypt’s firstborn sons.

Why did God choose the plagues he did? And why did he harden Pharaoh’s heart, ensuring that Egypt would experience the entire series of plagues? These are some of the questions that Dr. Gary E. Schnittjer, professor of the Old Testament at Cairn University, tackles in his online course, The Torah Story. The following post is…

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