Exegete It

“Tell me more.”

Sure you want to know?

“Definitely.”

OK. Here’s how it is: first, you exegete the passage.

“Whoa! What’s that big word mean?”

It means to so interpret the passage that you obtain as the result of your work nothing more than, nothing less than, and nothing other than what the Holy Spirit intended you to obtain from it. In other words, you understand its meaning and purpose and how it applies. You know what the Holy Spirit was up to when he had the writer pen the words.

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You Are Too Critical of Others

Note: The following essay is an excerpt from Dr. Adams’ as of yet unpublished manuscript entitled Adams’ Answers…Objections from Critics.

I want you to know that I do not enjoy criticizing others who have gone wrong in their counseling. I believe, however, that this criticism is fair and honest—and needed. But “too critical?” How can one be too critical of those who misrepresent our Lord Jesus Christ? Take for instance the “need” pyramid of Abraham Maslow that has led to much wrong thinking and even serious misinterpretation of Scripture on the part of “Christian” counselors. When the self-actualization, self-esteem movement came along, there were many who hopped on board. In order to justify using this non-Christian, unbiblical belief system, there were those who taught that God had to redeem us because we were so valuable to him. This theology, which bases the saving death of Christ upon our supposed great worth, flatly contradicts the biblical teaching about grace. There was nothing in us to commend us to God; our redemption issued purely out of His undeserved mercy and goodness.

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Correspondents . . .

I’ve been in and out of hospitals lately—visited a Dr. today, and must see him again tomorrow. Don’t know how much longer this will continue—that’s in God’s hands.

Going through all of this has been a harrowing experience—hence little sleep—which leads me to remark that I fell to sleep at the computer yesterday and—today.

I’m curious how many of you received strange emails as a result?

IV fluid bags

Looking up from the hospital bed, I noticed a bag of blood marked A+ and a bag of platelets marked A- hanging from the rolling bag rack. Concerned, I pointed this out to the nurse, who informed me that since I’m A positive, both A+ and A- would work (ALTHOUGH IT WON’T WORK THE OTHER WAY AROUND).

Now, I suppose I’ll have my A positive days and my A-negative days!

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Unfinished Business

For the second week in a row your counselee hasn’t done his homework. When you question him about it, he gives you some lame excuse for the failure. What will you do?

First, what you will not do is to allow him to do this a third time.

So, you repeat what you said the first week in which he failed to complete his assignment: “Bill, this won’t do. As I told you the last time that you came without having done your homework, we are depending on it to take the next step in counseling. [Of course, you must be sure to give homework that is important for moving counseling forward. Don’t just give verses to read or busywork. Homework must count to be of any value. If it doesn’t, it will probably be harmful to counseling].

 What do you do then?

You say, “Bill, we can’t go on until we have the results of your homework to work with. If you’re serious about solving this problem in order to honor God, you have to get serious about doing it. So, there’s only one thing to do. Here’s a piece of paper and a pencil. You can use the other room over there. We might as well make the most of the remaining time since we’re behind anyway. So, take these and go over there and make out the list you were supposed to bring this week. We’ll begin to look at it in a half hour.” Then, assuming he makes the assigned list, you commend him for it (“That’s more like it’) and spend the rest of the hour in a truncated session.

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The Primary Purpose of the NT

What’s the Primary purpose of the New Testament? Is it to preach the Gospel to the lost or is it to enable believers to glorify God by their lives? The question might seem unnecessary but for the insistence upon the first option by some who do all they can to promote it and to debunk the latter view. So, it is necessary to consider the matter.

There are those who seem to think that option number one is the larger, more comprehensive one. However, the opposite is the case. Surely, 1 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, James—or most any other NT book you examine is written to believers about their lives.

“What of the Gospel of John?” you ask.

It was written to unbelievers to help them believe and be saved. But what of 1 John? It was written to believers to help them to come to an assurance of their salvation—and it states so. It was not primarily written to bring people to faith in Christ. That’s clear. And, as for Luke/Acts, these books were written to a Christian that he might know the historical certainty of what he believed. Many purposes. Eh?

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Update on Dr. Adams

Jay was in the hospital again over the weekend. He is home but is very weak. Please continue to pray for both Jay and Betty Jane. If you would like to send a greeting you may do so at feedback@nouthetic.org and I will forward it on to Jay. I know he will be encouraged to hear from friends but he will not be able to respond to anyone personally.

Jay is still blogging, however. The blog post that appears Monday was written upon his return from the hospital!

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You Talk About Nothing Else But Sin

Note: The following essay is an excerpt from Dr. Adams’ as of yet unpublished manuscript entitled Adams’ Answers…Objections from Critics.

Let me say right up front that I don’t mind fair and impartial criticism; I try to learn from it. But one thing I am somewhat sensitive about is this: there are many who do not read carefully what I have written, but simply mouth gossip as if it were profound criticism.[1] Indeed, from some of the criticism that is leveled against Nouthetic Counseling in general, and me in particular, I wonder if many critics even bother to read what I have written. And if they read only Competent to Counsel, and nothing else (when there has been a spate of books following it that fill out the system), that too is evidence of irresponsible criticism.

There is a piece of slanderous gossip that has been noised about: that Nouthetic counselors do little more than hit people over the head with the Bible. In another form, the word is out that we distribute Bible verses like prescriptions, saying in effect, “Take this verse three times a day with prayer.” Thus, the very hard work and hours of labor that have been invested in exegetical and theological work are dismissed out of hand as if there never were any such thing. And what is most appalling is that some of this “criticism” comes from those who claim not to be theologians and who themselves know little or nothing about hermeneutics or exegesis. It is that sort of thing that I certainly want to expose and denounce from the outset.

 Objection:  “You talk about nothing else but sin.”

Now that is an interesting charge. I want to forestall all misunderstanding on the subject. Yes, I speak a lot about sin. So does the Bible. Others locate man’s problem in genetics, in environmental factors, in training, and so on. They limit their understanding of man’s difficulties thereby, and truncate the solutions that they might reach. They are like the blind men trying to describe the elephant.

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Where’s the Psychiatrist?

This week I have had the dubious pleasure of spending three days and nights in the hospital. I am convalescing as I write. Dubious, I say, because no one enjoys going to the hospital; pleasure, because the experience in one way was much better than I had anticipated.

Let me explain. Spartanburg Regional Hospital is a first-rate hospital system in a moderately-sized South Carolina city. It has become well-known enough for people from around the Southeast to travel to use its services. Superb physicians are coming to join its staff. It is also becoming well-known from its full page ads in world-class magazines. I suspect as the word gets out they will travel from much greater distances. And, as I became a part of things, I came to understand something of why I was located in a truly superior hospital complex.

Everything was efficiency itself! I was met at the door by “transportation services” with a wheelchair ready to receive me from the car. There was no waiting for admissions; I was taken immediately to my room. Less than fifteen minutes later I was in bed with a nurse inserting an IV into my arm. Personnel were prompt in responding to needs, and very informed, helpful and pleasant. And, so it went throughout the three days’ duration.

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Reasons

There are reasons behind Paul’s declaration that some find difficult to understand.

“What declaration?”

This one:

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any account; but what counts is a new creation.
                                                                      Galatians 6:15

“Oh. What are they?”

For one, his desire to warn people from adding obsolete rites and ceremonies to the pure and simple Gospel, as if they are necessary for salvation

“That’s serious, I admit. Any other reasons?”

Yes, but I’ll mention two more: some of the Judaizers seemed to want to add another name to their growing lists of “re-converts.” Others found they could escape Jewish persecution by doing so. Someday, take a gander at Galatians 6:13, and you’ll understand what I mean.

“Was there serious controversy over the matter?

You betcha’. The first general council of the church was held to confront the issue head on. You can read all about it in Acts 15.

“What did they decide?”

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Thank you for Praying

Dr. Adams spent the weekend in the hospital and is now continuing his recuperation at home. While he had several rough days his doctors believe he is on the mend. I picked him up at the hospital Sunday evening and he was feeling well enough to regale me with stories about the history of several cults on the way home.

Please continue to pray for Jay. He is still quite weak and will require more rest. Pray also for Betty Jane who has had some painful complications from knee replacement surgery.

On a personal note, I had the joy of marrying my son and daughter-in-law last Thursday. We had a great time with family members who had gathered for the occasion. Thanks to all who have sent greetings and a special thank you to our wonderful church family who ministered to us so selflessly this past week so we could focus on rejoicing with Paul and Brittany.

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