Meditations for Holy Week

Sure & Steadfast

As Holy Week, or the 8 days starting with Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Sunday, comes year by year, we must be careful to honor the Lord by reflecting on the events that took place which led to the crucifixion and then culminated in the resurrection. It is easy for us to go on with work or vacation and think little about Easter past decorating or finding colorful eggs. May we not distort Easter to be such, rather a time we glorify God as we recall the praise, teachings, betrayal, sufferings, death, and life of our Lord Jesus, the Christ. Below are a few resources that will help you in this effort.


The Events

Crossway published an immensely helpful book called The Final Days of Jesus. Crossway paired the book’s release with this blog. The blog contains 8 (one for each day) 3-5 minute videos providing historical, cultural, and theological background of the story, so that the details from Christ’s Triumphal Entry to Resurrection can be vividly remembered.

The Gospel Coalition (TGC) posted an article based on the aforementioned book. Russ Ramsey, in the article, summarizes each of the chapters into two paragraphs with the Scripture references. The article is designed to serve as a devotional guide for Holy Week, reading particular passages with some insightful commentary.


In Preparation for Maundy Thursday

At Together for the Gospel (T4G) 2008, RC Sproul drew upon the imagery of the Old Testament to teach the implications of what Jesus suffered on the cross and what He saved us from. Listen to this hour-long sermon from Galatians 3:10-14 to grasp the weight of the curse, which Jesus became, so that we would not stand accursed before the Father, rather righteous in Him.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a favorite preacher of many, was certainly a man of great wisdom and biblical understanding. TGC collected multiple quotes from Spurgeon on the Lord’s Supper and compiled them here. We must know that studying the things of God requires deep, concentrated thinking, and the article is the fruit of that and requires the reader to studiously ponder what is said.



The founding pastor of Parkwood, Dr. M.O. Owens Jr., preached our Sunrise Service on March 23, 2008. He was 94, currently 103, when he exposited Romans 4:13, 18-5:2. His sermon explores God’s character and nature, as it relates primarily to Christ’s Lordship solidified at the resurrection. Read his sermon to know God better and to better know the importance and implications of our salvation upon Christ’s resurrection.

While Easter is a big deal to us at Parkwood, we celebrate the news of Jesus’ death and resurrection weekly. Consider Easter the pinnacle of this celebratory news and every other week we trek through the implications of the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, dwelling in us, who were once dead.


Guest Blog From an Aspiring Missionary

At the age of 15, the Lord burdened my heart for the nations in a way that was different from brothers and sisters around me. I knew the trajectory of my life had come into focus on my first international missions experience. Due to the support and mission at Parkwood, I’ve been able to spend anywhere from a week to 10 weeks in different countries making disciples and leading others to do the same. The time is drawing near when my family will become “official” missionaries working among unreached peoples in Central Asia.

William Carey is best known as a British missionary who served until his death in 1834 in India. Some regard Carey as the “Father of Modern Missions.” Currently, the International MiWilliam Careyssion Board is discussing professionals using their jobs to take the Gospel to the unreached. Carey wrote about that in 1792. Currently, common practice is to send missionaries to join missionary teams rather than to work independently. Carey advocated that to be a better practice in his day. Currently, unreached people groups are the focus of missionary sending. Carey produced one of the first charts statistically accounting for how many Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and Pagans (we would now delineate as Hindus, Buddhists, Animists, and Atheists) exist in every part of the world. He wrote an essay, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, that is still pertinent to our considerations of to what the Gospel’s calls our lives. Friends, family, and strangers have all made sure I was aware I could make disciples in my city because not everyone is a Christians here. The same have also given reasons as to why most individuals shouldn’t go, but, brothers and sisters, please contemplate William Carey’s rebuttals that he wrote before 1800.

“They are too far away.”

“Whatever objections might have been made on that account before the invention of the mariner’s compass, nothing can be alleged for it, with any colour of plausibility in the present age…Yea, and providence seems in a manner to invite us to the trial, as there are to our knowledge trading companies, whose commerce lies in many of the places where, these barbarians dwell.”

The compass was thought of as technology sufficient to get to all peoples. May I ask, what is our excuse when we can communicate instantly with 40% of the world?

“The way of life is too barbaric.” [Read more…]

5 Reasons My Confidence in the Bible Is Not Undermined

This week in the book of Matthew we come to 17:14-21, and verse 21 is not in the Bible! At least it is not in most modern versions. How are we to understand what some might deem errors in the Bible? Enter textual criticism. Textual criticism is the discipline of maintaining the accuracy of the biblical text amid textual variants. We believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word, which means the absence of error in the original manuscripts of the Bible. Since we have no original manuscripts, but only copies, then inerrancy is undermined if we cannot have some sense of confidence not only in the originals but also in the remaining copied manuscripts. Complicating this transmission of copies through the ages is the presence of copyist mistakes and deterioration of old and even ancient manuscripts such as holes in the manuscripts or scrolls that are torn leaving only a partial document. In these instances, textual criticism seeks to determine what reading most faithfully reflects the perfect original manuscripts. 

1. Textual Criticism most often explains obvious human errors. 

In the copying of text, scribes would occasionally make mistakes, most of which are simple mistakes consisting of misspellings or transposing letters or words. The vast majority of these instances are blatantly obvious to translators, in which case publishers only produce the accurate words and we never see the misspelling. Occasionally, however, variants exist, which are words or phrases which have multiple legitimate options, but the original is clear even in most of these instances. We are left with a notation for explanation in the margin or footnote of our Bibles. For example, the notation in the instance of Matthew 17:21 reads, “Some manuscripts include verse 21,” yet the words are not included because it is clear they are not original. The answer is not as clear in some rare cases, so translators will include the text but then give notation that manuscripts differ on whether or not the word(s), phrase, or verse(s) are original. 

2. Inerrancy applies to original manuscripts and allows for human transcription. 

You may have heard of the term inerrancy of the Bible, which means the Bible contains no errors in the original autographs. This belief stresses two details: perfection of God and imperfection of man. First, as God has inspired His Word (2 Timothy 3:16), He has done so without error. Those original manuscripts, though, cannot be examined because we do not possess them. Had we possession of the actual original autographs, we would wrongly worship them instead of God who inspired them. He has withheld them from us in His providence, and we are left with copies. Secondly, we can discuss the possibility of questions in those copies while maintaining the conviction of inerrancy and while remaining staunchly confident in the inspiration of God without error. 

3. No difficulty presented by text criticism places a major doctrine in question.

As you may research and/or encounter various notations of textual criticism in your copy of the Scriptures, you may be confident to acknowledge those instances and comfortable facing each of those questions without concern for upsetting your faith or someone else’s faith. Even if you were to grant the worst case scenario for each variant text and conclude that we are totally unsure what the conclusion ought to be for any of the texts in question, you can still rest assured that no major doctrine of Scripture will be made uncertain or disproven. A variant text does not exist that, if accepted or rejected, disproves or solely proves any major doctrine of Christianity. 

4. Scripture interprets Scripture. 

This principle, that Scripture interprets Scripture, reinforces the previous point. No major doctrine rests independently on a single text of Scripture. Rather, the Bible is cohesive, fitting together as one, consistent revelation from God. If you were without a particular text, you would still have others to reinforce the same point. This principle helps interpretation also. If a text raises questions or seems particularly complex, you can appeal to the rest of Scripture, being confident of its consistency. The more simple and straightforward texts can bring clarity to the more difficult texts. 

5. God is trustworthy. 

God’s sovereignty and faithfulness must not be left out of this discussion. While it is true we are dealing with the reality of textual criticism and the transmission of God’s Word by human copyists, it is also true that we have a sovereign and faithful God who gives us this Word and who is sovereign and faithful over its transmission. Our God says we can trust His Word, and we can. He says that He does not lie, and we can trust Him. He says that He will not lead us astray, and we can follow Him. He says we should love, cherish, and obey His Word, and so indeed we will by His grace and help. We should be informed of textual criticism, but we should not lose sight of the trustworthy God who is giving the revelation. 
New Testament Textual Criticism by David Black is a great resource for further study. 


Given yesterday’s sermon and comments made regarding confronting our culture with the gospel, I share this timely article written by David Jeremiah and posted on the Radical website only a few days ago. The gospel is indeed offensive, but we need not be offensive for the sake of offense; instead we should be both faithful to the Word of God and gracious to our audience. This article addresses that critical and sometimes difficult line between grace and offense. You may access the article here on the Radical site or below for your convenience. 


Turn on any news channel and you will quickly become jaded by politicians. You can watch as they take the moral high ground while leaving a wake of moral decay behind them—yelling, name calling, trampling over others just to win an argument.

We as Christians have standards and convictions that place us at odds with our culture, and we should stand up and proclaim those convictions. But how can we be wise as serpents and as harmless as doves? How can we maintain our Christian composure in a confrontational age? How can we witness without sparring?

We can learn from Jesus. He was always strong, yet never rude. He spoke clearly and confidently, yet without venom or virulence. The apostle Peter, sometimes a loose cannon, learned that lesson well. Writing in his first epistle, he told us to handle opposition as Jesus did. The theme of 1 Peter is to walk in His steps, to deal with opposition as Christ did.

Speak Up – Respectfully
That means speaking up when needed. Peter told us to “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). We’re to speak as if delivering “the oracles of God” (4:11). We’re to preach the Gospel given by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven (1:12). So if you get the chance, say a word for the Lord.

But Peter also reminded us to present our defense of the faith “with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed” (3:15–16). He warned us about grumbling (4:9) and to be submissive to governing authorities (2:13–14).

It is important for Christians to be gracious and to be patient in conflict. Yes, Jesus spoke with fiery passion, and I’m amazed at the bluntness of His “Woe to You” sermon to the Pharisees and scribes in Matthew 24. But Christ always controlled His anger, and Peter said, “Arm yourselves also with the same mind” (1 Peter 4:1).

In our hostile world, a smile and a pleasant demeanor stand out like a redbird on a snow-covered landscape. We can fight the good fight, but we can do so in a Christlike manner. As someone once said: “To win some be winsome.”

Know When to Keep Quiet
We can also learn from Jesus the fine art of keeping quiet. By example Jesus taught us that sometimes a closed mouth offers the loudest testimony. Our Lord’s majestic silence still evokes dignity as we read of Him standing before Herod, Pilate, and the Sanhedrin, offering not a word of despair or defense.

One of the secrets of the martyrs has been their ability by God’s grace to maintain self-possession when being treated indignantly. They displayed a poise and peace that completely confounded those intent on destroying them. It was undoubtedly the glow on Stephen’s face and his words of forgiveness that haunted the young Saul of Tarsus until he became Paul the apostle.

In 1 Peter, wives of unbelievers are told to win their husbands to Christ, if possible, “without a word” by the power of “a gentle and quiet spirit” (3:1, 4).

Pray Always
We can always open our mouths to the Lord in prayer, however, for Peter told us to cast all our cares on Him (5:7). Jesus taught, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you…” (Matthew 5:44). Why this advice? First, for our opponents’ sake. They badly need someone interceding for them. But another reason is for our own sake. Praying for our foes (think of some outspoken humanist, secularist, or atheist you know) helps keep our hearts in balance.

As we pray, we can also leave grievances with God lest a root of bitterness spring up. Peter told us, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth, who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21–23). We’re to “commit our souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (4:19). We can’t right all the wrongs, nor can we change people’s spots. But we can do our best, leave the rest to God, and shake the dust off our feet along the way.

Let Your Good Works Speak for Themselves
Finally, we find peace amid the conflict when we let our good works speak for themselves. “(Have) your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

In Luke 14, Jesus went to a dinner where His foes were watching to see if He would violate Sabbath regulations. A diseased man was present. Jesus asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” The Pharisees kept silent, so Jesus healed the man. Turning to the crowd, He asked, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

Luke tells us, “They could not answer Him regarding these things” (verse 6).

The world has a hard time finding fault in good works. When we feed the hungry, care for the unfortunate, adopt orphans, provide relief, and live out our faith, they are silenced.

As Christians, we must confront our culture and speak the truth in love. We’re God’s ambassadors in a hostile world. This is no time to go mute. Morals are spiraling downward, marriage is being attacked, the church is being marginalized, atheists are scorning the truth, and humanists are relentlessly advancing an ungodly agenda on a new generation. We have to speak up. But we must do so as Christ did—and He was never ill-tempered, hot-headed, loose-lipped, or bad humored. We have to watch ourselves because the whole world is watching us; and when others see us, we want them to see Him.

Dr. David Jeremiah is the senior pastor at Shadow Mountain Community Church and founder of Turning Point Ministries. He has authored 43 books, including a New York Times bestseller equipping Christians to confront the destructive cultural trends of today.