Bible Studies

The Scripture’s Sources, Scope, Sum & Substance

In the 400th Anniversary Year of the launching of The King James Version of the Bible

The 2004 Winter Bible Study Series at The City Church, New York

The last supernova was seen from Earth exactly 400 years ago – in 1604. That spectacular astral explosion of light and energy was visible through both darkness and daylight. Its bright shining can symbolize the flame of another powerful light – the power and light of the written word of God, lit for new life in that stellar year. The King James translation of the Bible was launched – 400 years ago this month.

That literary launching was at the palace at Hampton Court in the countryside south of London. The decision to produce this new translation of the Bible marked a significant turning point in the history of the knowledge of God’s Word. Though it was not the first vernacular version of the Bible – even in English – it would turn out to be the literature that would shape, not only Christian understanding, but even the broadest culture of the English-speaking world for centuries.

James, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, had ascended to the English throne on the death of the popular “Good Queen Bess” – Elizabeth I. He’d already been King James VI of Scotland.

James found himself up against many odds. For one thing, he was faced with a political crisis in the church controversies between the Anglican establishment and the Puritans. In an effort to try to address these problems, he invited both sides to his country residence at Hampton Court, where he was holed up to escape the plague infesting the filthy city of London. Read more →

Truth & the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to St. John

The Fall 2003 Bible Study Series by

Dr. Ralph Blair at the City Church, New York


Three hundred years ago today, Jonathan Edwards was one week old. And considering how very precocious he was, he was already well on his way to becoming America’s foremost theologian. One day, he wrote the following on truth, how to know it and what to do about it – the general topic of our study series beginning today. Said Edwards: “Reason is to determine that there is a God, and that he is an infinitely perfect holy Being, and that the Scripture is his Word.” Edwards understood that God’s Spirit illuminates both God’s general revelation of truth in the book of nature and God’s special revelation of truth in the book we call the Bible, where we read about Truth in Person, Jesus Christ.

God gave us minds that can go some distance in reasoning to truth, even without the Bible. So we’ll begin this series on truth and John’s Gospel by examining how anyone comes to know truth at all. With that foundation, we’ll look into the truth revealed in John’s Gospel. After all, as Edwards goes on to say: “when we have determined [that truth is God’s], modesty and humility and reverence to God require that we allow that God is better able to declare to us what is agreeable to that perfection than we are to declare to him or ourselves.” Read more →

Plain Christianity

A Study Series for The City Church, New York, Winter, 2002

By Dr. Ralph Blair


Three weeks ago I was in California for a wedding. On Sunday morning, I was taken to Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral where “never is heard a discouraging word.” At least that’s the intention at the palace of “possibility thinking.”

The choir sang Charles Wesley’s glorious hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues To Sing My Great Redeemer’s Praise.” Accompanied by the massive pipe organ and full orchestra, it was an inspiring sound of praise. For that hymn, Wesley had written these lines: “Jesus, the Name that charms our fears, / That bids our sorrows cease; / ‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears, / ‘Tis life, and health, and peace.” But in Schuller’s so-called “Positive Christianity,” Wesley’s biblical theology gets sanitized. They are no longer “sinner’s ears” but “listener’s ears” where the name of Jesus sounds as music. But in singing of “My Great Redeemer’s Praise,” what am I then redeemed from? Isn’t it in the ear of one who knows himself or herself to be a sinner in need of salvation that the name of Jesus – Redeemer – is music? It is sin from which we’re saved. And, of course, there was no confession of sin at the Crystal Cathedral. As Dr. Boyd has reminded us, many churches these days consider a confession of sin to be “a downer.” Schuller does. He vows never to address his congregation as sinners. Well that’s a downer. Without a realistic diagnosis there’s no realistic remedy. If sin brings one down – as it does – the confession of that sin should be anything but “a downer.” Read more →

Our Only Comfort

Our Only Comfort Our Only Comfort in Life and in Death
Meditations in The Heidelberg Catechism

Dr. Ralph Blair

The City Church, New York, October 6, 13, 20, 27, 2002


The interruption of everyday life by sudden death and destruction was never as massive here in America as on 9/11 a year ago. And yet, fewer than half of Americans polled by Barna Research reported that religious faith was the key – or even a key – resource in coping with the attacks. George Barna rightly concludes that this finding “says something about the spiritual complacency of the American public.” Read more →

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