Explore the Book: Genesis (Pt 2)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1–2)

Creation

  • “In the beginning God” – denies atheism with its doctrine of no God
  • “In the beginning God” – denies polytheism with its doctrine of many gods
  • “In the beginning God created” – denies fatalism with its doctrine of chance
  • “In the beginning God created” – denies evolution with its doctrine of infinite becoming
  • “God created heaven and earth” – denies pantheism which makes God and the universe identical
  • “God created heaven and earth” – denies materialism which asserts the eternity of matter

Note:  It is at this point that Baxter maintains what many older commentators maintained.  He held to a gap of time that elapses between Genesis 1.1 and Genesis 1.2.  He claims that these verses have no logical connection.  He seeks to reconcile science with the Bible by explaining geology through this gap of time.  He believes that the earth was reformed. Further, he believes that the days in Genesis 1-2 are not literal days but point to the process, progress, and purpose they exhibit.  This effects his view of Genesis 2.

I maintain that God created all things in six literal days.  There was no recreation of the heavens and the earth.  There is no large gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  As far as the age of the geological table, I believe God created the heavens and the earth with the appearance of age.  Adam and Eve were not created as infants but as full-grown adults.  The gap theory and any other acquiescence to science ought to be dismissed.  The text in Genesis is literal and historical.

Click this link to understand more about the Gap Theory and recent modifications made to it.

Fall

  1. Temptation (Genesis 3.1-6) – The tempter could only tempt.  There need not have been sin.  There was no reason to yield to temptation.  The temptation was strengthened by the questioning of God’s Word (3.1), flat out contradiction (3.4), and the maligning of God’s motive behind the prohibition given (3.5).
  2. Yielding (Genesis 3.6) – Satan captured the ear, the eye, the inward desire, and finally the will.  Eve allowed her ear to listen to the tempter, her eye to become fixed upon the object of temptation, and her desire to run away with her will (cp. Genesis 3.6 with 1 John 2.16 and 2 Timothy 2.14).
  3. Results (Genesis 3.7-24) – Eyes were in fact opened and they knew they were naked.  Innocence was gone.  Shame manifested itself.  Surely there were outward and inward changes.  Attendant with sin was fear and hiding.  Yet God remembers mercy and delivers the promise of a coming Savior (Genesis 3.15).

Flood

We know little about the period between the Fall and the Flood.  It is a 1600 year period when corruption became so thorough that the intervention of God was unavoidable.  Retribution became inevitable.  It illustrates the need for separation between the lines of Seth and Cain.  It illustrates the need to remain uncompromising in our world today.

Note:  Baxter believes that it is not necessary to hold to a universal flood in order to maintain inspiration.  He is mistaken.  The promise of God mitigates against this belief.  There have been many localized floods that have taken tens of thousands of lives in a single incident.  His material on this point is confusing and incoherent.

To better understand the Genesis flood, click here to examine its universality.
Baxter
Babel

This event marks the pluralizing of human language.  This was necessary as a form of judgment due to unwholesome unity and rebellion against God.

Note:  Baxter’s addendum to Lesson 2 buttressed his argument for a Gap Theory.  Research regarding the Days of Creation is found by clicking the link.  In spite of Baxter’s support of the Gap Theory, we will find much value and profit in Explore the Book.  We just need to be discerning.

Corrosive Hypocrisy

  1. The hypocritical giver receives glory from men rather than open rewards from God (Matthew 6.1-4).
  2. THypocrite-300x150he hypocritical person who prays are recognized as spiritual by men and are rewarded with man’s recognition rather than open rewards from God (Matthew 6.5-6).
  3. The hypocritical person who fasts disfigures his face and gives the appearance of suffering and is rewarded with man’s recognition rather than open rewards from God (Matthew 6.16-18).
  4. The hypocritical judge picks away at the lives of others while ignoring glaring problems in his own life (Matthew 7.1-5; Luke 6.39-42).
  5. The hypocritical legalist uses man-made tradition to circumvent God-given responsibilities (Matthew 15.1-7; Luke 13.15-16).
  6. The hypocritical person is blind when it comes to pending doom and the arrival of the kingdom of God (Matthew 16.1-4).
  7. The hypocritical person is constantly seeking to undermine authority (Matthew 22.15-22).
  8. The hypocritical person obscures the kingdom of God instead of making the way plain (Matthew 23.13; Luke 12.56).
  9. They hypocritical person devours the resources of the defenseless under the guise of spirituality (Matthew 23.14).
  10. The hypocritical person secures adherents that take hypocrisy to a new level (Matthew 23.15).
  11. The hypocritical person is more concerned about tithing than justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23.23-24).
  12. The hypocritical person is more concerned with what people see than what God sees (Matthew 23.25-28).
  13. The hypocritical person is overconfident about his spirituality and discernment (Matthew 23.29-30).
  14. The hypocritical servant forget his master will hold him accountable one day (Matthew 24.45-51).
  15. The hypocritical person is honors the Lord Jesus with His lips but his heart is far from Him (Mark 7.6-7).
  16. The hypocritical person is a death trap to the unaware (Luke 11.44; 12.1-3).

Love must be without hypocrisy (Romans 12.9).  Wisdom from above is without hypocrisy (James 3.17).

Marriage: From a Biblical Perspective

Evangelist Doug Lowery visited us this past weekend for a Family and Marriage Seminar.  Here are some echoes from his first session on Saturday morning:

There are five foundational elements when it comes to a biblical marriage:

  1. God is the Producer of Marriage (Genesis 1-2).  He created it (Gen 2.18-25), commends it (Heb 13.4), and constructs it (Psalm 127.1).  There are four institutions set in place by God:  Marriage, Government, Israel, and the Church.
  2. A Man and a Woman are the Partners of Marriage (Genesis 2).  God established heterosexual and monogamous marriage.  Homosexual unions are despicable or abominable before God.  While the Scriptures reveal rampant polygamy in the Old Testament, God never commends are endorses it.
  3. The Permanence of Marriage is formed by the bond of God’s cement and our covenant.  The covenant of marriage is formed by the thee-fold cord of the husband, the wife, and God (Matt 19.4-6; Ecc 5.1-6; Mal 2.14-16).
  4. The Purity of Marriage is reinforced by making sure the husband and wife have an intimate, committed relationship (Gen 2.25; Heb 13.4; 1 Cor 7.1-2, 8-9; 1 Thes 4.1-7; 1 Tim 5.22; 2 Tim 2.22).  Brother Lowery used an illustration involving a fireplace to illustrate this point.  A fire confined to a fireplace provides warmth and comfort (sex inside the marriage bond), but if you pull that same fire into the middle of the room (sex outside the marriage bond), it becomes dangerous and destructive.
  5. The Pictures of Marriage are three-fold:  Our present relationship with Christ is called an engagement (2 Cor 11.2).  The roles of husband and wife depict the relationship which exists between Christ and the church in this age (Eph 5.22-27).  Our future relationship with Christ is also termed a marriage (Rev 19.7-9).

Obedience and Faith

Hebrews 5.9.jpgThis afternoon I was thinking about these words in Hebrews 5.9:  “He [the Lord Jesus] became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.”

The Scriptures clearly teach that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2.8-9).  Faith is not a work or a gift.  It is the reception of God’s gift in Jesus Christ, the author of eternal salvation.  Yet Hebrews 5.9 states that Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.  This is because only those who have first trusted in Christ are able to obey Him.

Our faith and obedience is the only “work of God” that will be accepted by God (John 6.29).  It is a work of God in that our belief and obedience are only possible because God alone has made it possible through the work of Jesus Christ, His Son.

As the Word of God spread, the number of disciples multiplied in the early church.  These disciples were obedient to the faith (Acts 6.7).  However, not all have obeyed the Gospel (Romans 10.16).  And yet we have purified our souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love (1 Peter 1.22).

But what is the writer of Hebrews getting at in this particular verse?  Hebrews 1.14 says that we shall inherit eternal salvation.  We receive the promise of an eternal inheritance in Hebrews 9.15.  Jesus is the author of this eternal salvation.  Does he mean that our salvation is so much more than deliverance from Hell?  I think so.  Our deepening trust and obedience through suffering is possible only because of Jesus.  And yet as we trust and obey, we find a greater reward when we see Him at the end of our lives.  This is truly the grace and mercy of God on display for those who trust and obey.

Wonderful Wednesdays

Today I taught young people in two separate chapels (K-6 and 7-12) to study God’s word for themselves (Hebrews 5.11-14).  Then I taught a Bible class for 6th graders.  I shared with them that God keeps His promises (Genesis 8-9).  Then I went to a retirement home and taught the elderly that in the multitude of their anxieties, the Lord would bring them comforts (Psalm 94.19).  Interestingly, an elderly lady that has been studying the Bible for over 50 years had studied Psalm 94 before I arrived.  We are going through the Psalms.  She found 12 things men do to cause anxiety and 10 comforts God gives to quell it.  All from within this Psalm.  I gave the proposition and she filled in the main points!  Tonight I will preach on Psalm 97.11 and pray with our church.  The topic tonight centers on the blessings of those who walk uprightly.  This is what Wednesdays are like for me.  What a wonderful Wednesday!  What a wonderful life!

Greek Genitives

I have a Greek and Hebrew minor.  When I came to Christ in 1990, I was as dumb as a rock when it came to grammar.  Interestingly, I taught myself grammar from the ground up when I began the daunting task of teaching 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in 1991.  It was very humiliating in many respects.  I rewarded students for correcting my grammar in the classroom.  They learned and I learned.  It was a good deal.

When the Lord Jesus called me to preach, I thought it important to learn both Greek and Hebrew.  I always thought that Greek would be fairly logical and tight in translation work.  Then came discussions regarding genitives in reading courses.  Here is where I found all the ambiguity.  Another difficulty arises when we look at vocabulary words that occur infrequently.  Put those two situations together, and you have Romans 12.3 containing a rather difficult genitive:

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)  Here is the discussion from many good men on this genitive:

The faith in view in this verse [v. 3] and in verse 6 seems to refer to one’s ability to view and use his or her gifts as abilities that God has given. It also involves trusting in God to work through us to bring blessing to others.  Constable, T. (2003).

Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Ro 12:3). Galaxie Software.

“Portion of faith” = portion (namely charismatic portion) belonging to faith (simple possessive genitive). Πίστις is personal, saving faith, and in the case of every believer it has and possesses some charisma or other that is to be exercised for the glory of God and the good of the church. Fail not to note “each one.” This relieves us of the forced and unsatisfactory interpretations which think of a partitive genitive because portion and portioning precede. “Portion” is an incomplete concept; but a genitive of a proper kind makes its governing noun definite. That is the case here. Only a few, thinking of a partitive genitive, speak of “a portion of justifying faith” despite the analogy of Scripture which never speaks of such portions and never tells us to be satisfied with a small portion of saving faith.

Lenski, R. C. H. (1936). The interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (p. 755). Columbus, Ohio: Lutheran Book Concern.

ἑκάστῳ ὡς ὁ θεὸς ἐμέρισεν μέτρον πίστεως, “as God has measured to each a measure of faith.” The thought is rather compressed (Cranfield), but the meaning is clear enough so far as syntax is concerned. Despite Cranfield’s strong and repeated advocacy (followed by Fitzmyer, Wilckens; cf. also Jewett, Tolerance, 61–62, and Harrisville; against most—e.g., TDNT 4:634; Lietzmann; Barrett; Murray; Schmidt; Schlier; Ortkemper, 45–46; Zeller), it is very unlikely that μέτρον here has the sense of “standard by which to measure, means of measurement.”
    (1) Following μερίζω the phrase is more naturally taken as an apportioning of different measures—as is the case in 1 Cor 7:17 and 2 Cor 10:13 (the nearest parallel—apostles have been apportioned different spheres of service [neb]). 
  (2) The fact that the μέτρον is given to each does not imply that all have the same μέτρον. The thought is parallel to that in 1 Cor 12:7 (each has been given some measure of faith), as is clear from v 6a and indeed v 3a itself (cf. also the very Pauline 1 Pet 4:10); see also on 12:4–5. 
  (3) Cranfield’s concern lest Paul be understood to commend a reliance on “fluctuating subjective feelings” is understandable, but it rather misses the point. The sober self-assessment just called for has in view the rich diversity of the expressions of faith (and grace): by recognizing that each is graced in some measure and each expression is indispensable to the community of faith a false sense of superiority will be effectively avoided (as Paul argued at length in the parallel passage, 1 Cor 12:14–26). Cf. particularly Schlatter.
    (4) All this confirms what we would have had to deduce anyway from the use of πίστις, since throughout the letter Paul uses this key word of the human act and attitude of believing, as the means through which God effects his saving work (δικαιοσύνη), in contrast to a more objectively or externally ascertained pattern of conduct (ἔργανόμου).

This trust, which is the common denominator of all Christians (= believers), Paul clearly sees as variable in different believers (4:19–20; 14:1; Leenhardt compares the concept of maturity, as in 1 Cor 2:6; 3:1; and Phil 3:15). Here there is no sharp distinction in fact between “saving faith” and “miracle-working faith” (as in 1 Cor 12:9). Both indicate that measure of reliance on God which enables χάρις to come to expression in χάρισμα. It is the confident trust in God which recognizes that all faith and grace is from God which prevents the misjudgment of ὑπερφρονεῖν. Paul’s vision is that such reliance needs to be strengthened since it is the basis of Christian conduct and relationship (see further on 14:23). Black’s suggestion that πίστις here should have the sense “responsibility” is really a variation on πιστις = “faithfulness” and does not fit with Paul’s whole train of thought in the letter.

Dunn, J. D. G. (1998). Romans 9–16 (Vol. 38B, pp. 721–722). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

What living sacrifices do have is a measure of faith God has given. This corresponds to the grace that Paul himself received from God. Paul said in Ephesians 4:7 that “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” Peter said that, “Each one should use whatever gift [of grace] he has received to serve” (1 Pet. 4:10). God’s gifts of grace—the measure of faith God has given each believer—levels the playing field. No one is better than another, so no one should think more highly of himself than he ought.

Boa, K., & Kruidenier, W. (2000). Romans (Vol. 6, p. 368). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Controversy arises over what is meant precisely by the phrase μέτρον πίστεως, which Cranfield (1961–62) has discussed at some length, and he illustrates how a number of different readings are possible. Here I shall concentrate on the main interpretations that have been proposed. The word μέτρον may be defined as “standard.” Those who defend this interpretation typically understand πίστεως as appositional, and identify the standard of faith either as Jesus Christ (Cranfield 1961–62; Ziesler 1989: 296; Fitzmyer 1993c: 646; cf. Moo 1996: 761) or as the gospel (Stuhlmacher 1994: 192).  According to this view, believers are called on to estimate themselves either in accord with the objective standard of the gospel or with reference to the standard of their faith, Jesus Christ himself.  Despite the attractiveness of this interpretation, another one is preferable. The use of the verb ἐμέρισεν with the noun μέτρον suggests that the latter does not refer to a “standard” but to a “measure” or “quantity” of something (cf. 1 Cor. 7:17; 2 Cor. 10:13). It seems more likely that the phrase relates to the apportioning of an amount of faith instead of apportioning “the standard of faith.” That is, the very word “apportion” is such that the idea of “quantity” is more fitting than “standard.” The “faith” in view could be miracle-working faith (Barrett 1991: 217), but elsewhere Paul limits the special gift of faith to only some believers (1 Cor. 12:9; cf. 13:2). This sense sits awkwardly with the present context, for Paul emphasizes that he addresses every believer. It is unlikely that the measure of faith refers to the special gift of faith that is given to only some believers (1 Cor. 12:9), since the admonition is addressed to all believers (rightly Wilckens 1982: 11). I conclude, then, that Paul is speaking of the quantity of faith or trust that each believer possesses

Schreiner, T. R. (1998). Romans (Vol. 6, pp. 652–653). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Paul proceeds to the thought that this is to be done in accordance with the measure of faith God has given. NIV omits “to each” with which this clause starts, but it is important. Paul is not speaking only about great leaders, but about all the Romans. “To each” God has given faith as the measure.31 Without faith none of the gifts can be exercised, and faith is the standard whereby they are to be estimated. If we take this with full seriousness, seeing God as the sole author of the gifts and ourselves as totally dependent on him for them all, it is unlikely that we will be arrogant. Humility proceeds from genuine faith. There is another thought here. When we see that God is the giver of all the gifts and that faith is the measure, we will not deny our own gifts either. Being sober-minded means recognizing what God has given us and being zealous in its use as well as humble.

Morris, L. (1988). The Epistle to the Romans (p. 438). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

The measure of faith. ‘Faith’ here has a rather different sense from that which it bears in the earlier part of the letter; here it denotes the spiritual power given to each Christian for the discharge of his or her special responsibility (cf. verse 6, ‘in proportion to our faith’).

Bruce, F. F. (1985). Romans: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 6, p. 226). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

These special abilities or gifts are correctly understood as a measure or “quantity” (1 Cor 7:17; 2 Cor 10:13; not “standard” of faith as if it were Jesus Christ or the gospel; cf., Moo, Romans, 761) of faith possessed by each believer (Schreiner, Romans, 652–53) to serve the Church a concept that is more fully developed in vv 6–8.

Lopez, R. A. (2005). Romans Unlocked Power to Deliver (p. 244). Springfield, MO: 21st Century.

The measure of faith] Cp. Eph. 4:7, where (see ver. 11) the context is similar to this. There, however, the word “grace” is used where “faith” is used here; and “faith” here is not quite easy of explanation. In this Epistle the special aspect of faith (trust in God and His word) as justifying has been consistently in view, rather than its aspect (Heb. 11:1) as laying hold upon invisible realities in general. Here, therefore, it seems best to seek for a reference as consistent as possible with that of the rest of the Epistle, and one also which shall harmonize with the phrase in ver. 6 below; q.v. We explain the present passage then as follows:—“Faith” here means specially acceptance of Christ, revealed as the Propitiation: but that acceptance is also, ipso facto, the entrance on bondservice to God, (see e.g. 6:18:) therefore the gift of faith is here mentioned as involving the idea of the allotment of consequent duties and functions also to the various believers with their various capacities. Faith, in the Divine plan, is the grand qualification for service, (because it is the appointed instrument of reconciliation;) and it is therefore the sphere, so to speak, in which all true service is to be done.
In this view, we may paraphrase the passage before us: “even as God distributed the sovereign gift of faith, (Eph. 2:7, 8,) the gift of the power to ‘believe unto justification,’ to each of you, with a view in each case to the various tasks and services of the life of faith.”

Moule, H. C. G. (1891). The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, with Introduction and Notes (pp. 207–208). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Depression and Suffering

depressed-216x300Reformed Theology has spent much time and effort with practical counseling.  Among these counselors is Dr. David Powlison.  Here is a talk he gave at RTS.  Well worth an hour and a half of your time.  You don’t have to agree with RT to profit.  Here are the notes I took while listening:

William Styron in Darkness Visible:  Depression used to be known as melancholia.  Depression describes an economic decline or a rut in the road.  Depression is a true wimp of a word for such a major problem.  Adolf Meyer first assigned the term depression to what was formerly known as melancholia.  The term leaves little trace of malevolence and horrible intensity of what one goes through in such a dreadful and raging experience.  

People like simple explanations and definitive solutions, but depression eludes such a reductionist formula.

Armand Nicolai, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard

    

  • Biological problems can effect mood.  But there are many other causes for depression that are not biological.
  • What goes on neurologically with depression?  Does depression cause neurological changes or is there a biological problem that causes depression (chicken or egg).  Nicolai says that it cannot be known.  Depression is not always biologically determined.

Joseph Glenn Mullin – Prozac Backlash (Harvard professor)

    

  • Antidepressants are less effective and more dangerous if you use them over a long period of time.
  • Placebo effect – 2/3 as effective as the real drugs.
  • 75% of those receiving medication could receive much less than they are taking.

Stephen Hyman (Harvard professor)

   

  • Psychiatrists cannot give people what they really need – meaning, purpose, and relationships.

Christian make the same error.  Is depression sinful?  Is there a place where Scripture reproves sorrow, anguish, and despair?  Does it call these things sin?  The wisdom books gives voice to this experience.  It is an experience of suffering.  The Gospel addresses what is wrong with us (sin) and what is wrong in the world (suffering).

Many of the psalms address this human condition of anguish, heart-ache, and sorrow.  

”Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Immorality is unruliness.  But depression belongs to the fainthearted and the weak.  Sinfulness can be tangled up with suffering, however.  We can fail and experience anguish and guilt.  This is a proper feeling if you’re accurately gauging true offenses.

There is a normal sorrow at betrayal and the destruction of some temporal hope.  But that can lead to suicide and other warped thinking.  It can reveal that we made an idol out of something or someone on this earth.

Depression is hard and messy with not simple explanation or fix.  Job felt great turmoil and great grief.  His sorrow and anguish attended his pursuit of the living God.  He was presumptuous and God corrected him.  There are many causes that are external and internal that lead us into temptation.

The Bible does not weigh all the factors and give you a comprehensive analysis or full explanation.  The Bible doesn’t attempt to give a scientific answer.  The complexity of depression eludes such a cut and dry method of diagnosis.

  • Psalm 31 – sorrow, grief, abandoned, forsaken, despised, desperate; I commit my spirit into your hands
  • Psalm 32 – my body is wasting away
  • Psalm 34 – many afflictions, all my troubles, all my fears – you fill in the details; what are your fears and troubles
  • Psalm 35 – bereavement to my soul
  • Psalm 38 – sick, in pain, crushed, burning, utterly weak
  • Psalm 40 – evils surround me, evils overcome me, my heart fails me
  • Psalm 42-43 – Why are you cast down, O my soul?  Why are you disquieted within me?

Go through whatever you have to in life in order to get to Jesus.

Psalm 25 – 

It’s ironic that David dealt treacherously without cause (Bathsheba and Uriah).  People dealt with him treacherously and without cause as well.  “Lord, when you think about me, remember Yourself.”  
Read Psalm 25 carefully.

Many do not see God in their struggle.  Many do not see their sin and idolatry.  Along with the struggle, you must see God’s invitation out of it.  Psalm 25 has three things that many sufferers do not have:

  1. No awareness of sinfulness
  2. No Lord – therefore not teaching on mercy and love
  3. No faith with any kind of substance to it

However, their are a number of things that tugs at the sufferer in the person:

  1. Acute sensitivity to the beauty of creation
  2. Camaraderie and fellowship with other believers; pleasure
  3. Great valuing of Christian friends
  4. Impulse to get straightened out spiritually – can be unformed but the longing or sense is there
  5. Responsive to the candor of another
  6. Awareness of weakness and essential need

Eight Questions Creating Direct Linkages into Ministry:

  1. Do I need help?  We need awareness that we need it.  One gives it and another receives it.  God gives it through believers.
  2. Do I trust you?  It’s hard to trust people.  But God is to be trusted.  The only one who is truly trustworthy is God.
  3. Will I be honest with you?
  4. Do you understand me?  Have you gotten enough into my life that you truly understand what I’m going through.  God understands us for certain.  God is merciful and filled with lovingkindness.  He is willing to teach sinners to walk in His ways.  Christ both suffered and gives aid to those who suffer.
  5. Will the person listen?
  6. Will the person take to heart what you are saying?
  7. Will the person act?  Faith must move to love.  Small obediences …one step at a time.  What is the next right step right now?
  8. Will I persevere?  Will one thing lead to the next thing?  

L

Live in a dark hole or a wide world?  You can move from one to another through Jesus Christ.  It’s more than feeling better.  It’s about getting to Jesus Christ.  God gives us His Word and lends us His ears in Psalm 25 (Bonhoeffer).  The Holy Spirit blesses fruitful sowing of the Word of God – careful listening and good questions.