Verses of the Day

Reading Hebrews, it reminded me of the passage in 1 Timothy. I’m not sure if it makes sense or not. It’s mainly 1 Timothy 6:19 that goes with the Hebrews passage. Revelation is a bonus, and reminds us of what eternal life eventually entails.

God also said,
“Lord, in the beginning you laid the foundation of the earth.
With your own hands you made the heavens.
They will come to an end, but you will live forever.
They will all wear out like clothes.
They will be taken off like a coat. You will change them like clothes.
But you remain the same, and your life will never end.
Hebrews 1:10-12 GW

Tell those who are rich in this age not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, let them place their confidence in God, who lavishly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good actions, to be generous, and to share. By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves that is a good foundation for the future, so that they can keep their hold on the life that is real.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 ISV

“Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 HCSB

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to the thirsty from the spring of living water as a gift. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.
Revelation 21:3-7 HCSB

Job’s Friends

This is one of the best explanations I’ve read about Job’s so-called friends. I wish that anyone who gives ‘advice’ to those who are suffering would read Job along with an exposition of it.

I think part of the reason Job is so long is so that people get a feeling of what suffering people go through–the endless assumptions, platitudes, general truths that are misplaced, etc. It can go on and on. But I want to say that with my conditions, I haven’t had to deal with this as much as a lot of people.

‘After some initial sympathy, Job’s friends place themselves above Job and his sufferings. They do not seek to comfort; rather, they seek to explain. Comforting and explaining are quite different. The basic theology of the friends is not bad, but their application of it is incorrect. As Kidner notes, the rebuke of the friends by God does not dismiss the basic theology of Proverbs as much as it “attacks the arrogance of pontificating about the application of these truths, and of thereby misrepresenting God and misjudging one’s fellow men. The friends are thus negative characters and not models of behavior for the audience. Much of what they say is true, but they say it at the wrong time and apply it to the wrong situation.’

— J. Scott Duvall, J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word

Also see:
Blog Posts on Job

Book Review: What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About

Book CoverWhat the New Testament Authors Really Cared About – A Survey of Their Writings (2nd Edition) by Kenneth Berding (Editor), Matt Williams (Editor)

When I had the opportunity to review this book, I took it without deliberating because I reviewed its predecessor, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About, which I was very impressed with, and find very helpful as a reference tool.

Here is what the publisher, Kregel, says about this 2nd edition:

Now in hardcover, this second edition of What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About has a new cover and layout to correspond with the look of the popular companion volume, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About.

The artwork is on the hardcover, which I really like, instead of a dust jacket. The paper and everything else about it is very high quality. Color is used throughout making it pleasing to look at, and the table of contents has a list almost four pages long of maps, photographs, and tables, to give you an idea of how illustrative it is. As with most things “illustrated”, there are many photographs that are fillers–they could probably have been taken anywhere. I may have been more judicious and not have to have photos everywhere just because. On the other hand, it would be hard to find completely relevant photographs to find for every space that an image would occupy.

It’s a New Testament introduction (or survey) of sorts, but written by those who teach undergraduates as opposed to those in seminary or graduate courses. The audience is for the less scholarly inclined and more for the regular person who would like to get a good overview of each book of the New Testament, and specifically what each inspired author was conveying to their original audience. There are also “more than one hundred applications highlighted in sidebars to clarify how the New Testament authors might apply their writings to Christians living in the twenty-first century.”

I found some of it to be somewhat of a summary of the Biblical book, which is rather simple, but the majority is on what each author emphasizes and is conveying to his audience.

The book is generally theologically neutral, but is bent towards the Calvinist end. This may be more apparent in some of the usual areas.

The first chapter, Walking in the Sandals of a First-Century Jew, is extremely helpful. This provides a backdrop of where the authors are coming from and who some of their original audience is.

There is no introduction to the gospels, which I at first found puzzling. I then realized that the book is focused on each author. However, What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About has a very helpful introduction to the minor prophets. I think one for at least the Synoptic Gospels would have been helpful to show the differences even more than the similarities. There is an introduction to Paul’s writings which is very informative.

For those who would like something other than the mammoth New Testament introductions, like deSilva’s–which I have–and is literally the biggest (tallest) book I have, but something more comprehensive than what a study Bible would have in their introductions to each book, this is a good fit. I’m very glad to have it as a reference book.

I received this book free from Kregel Academics for the purpose of reviewing it. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Academic; 2 edition (August 27, 2015)

Heaven Isn’t a Place for Getting Even!

I’ve heard people say–and even authors write–many times, “When we get to heaven, we’ll see who’s right!” I think this is an abominable (and I don’t think I’ve ever used that word) attitude to have, for a number of reasons.

Dear friends, now we are God’s children. What we will be isn’t completely clear yet. We do know that when Christ appears we will be like him because we will see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 GW

In This Life
We know it’s true that “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.” Sadly, this includes those who have rejected Christ as Lord, but will see that he is Lord when he comes back to judge, and they will be separated from God for eternity. But this isn’t what I’m talking about. Seeing people going to hell isn’t something to gleefully say, “I told you so” about.

When it comes to debate about theological or other topics, you’re not as smart as you think you are. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, we should be comparing ourselves to God (Isaiah 55:8-9). If you have read the Psalms, notice how God is described; or read the oft-neglected Proverbs to see how to act. I confess this all the time–thinking I know more than I do. Silly.

Every day in a thousand ways I make myself the center of the universe.

–William Temple

If we’re constantly thinking this way, there may be a lack of love.

Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3 GW

This isn’t to say that we should never criticize those who arrogantly disobey Scripture, or disagree with other people, or tell them when we think they’re wrong (1 Timothy 3:16 etc.). This can be edifying and educational.

In Heaven
When people talk about their pet theological theories and have disagreements, they often think that when they are with Christ in glory (Colossians 3:4), they will at the same time seek out those who disagreed with them to tell them they were right. Or, it may be more friendly than that and two people or groups of people will try to see who was right about what.

Short Answer
You won’t care!

Reasoning
First of all, when we are in the presence of our indescribably magnificent God, seeing him face to face, do you think you are going to be seeking out others to see who was right about your pet theological ideas? Really? I would think this is enough to grieve the Spirit in this life.

Do you think you know so much that when you get to heaven, after seeing God, his angelic army, and his heavenly creation that you will be telling people how you were right about .0000000001% of things in the world? And what if you found out that the people that you disagreed with knew .000000001% more than you anyway? (That’s one less zero.)

When we are perfected, we will be happy. We will have an attitude of love. There won’t be spite, arrogance, or even earthly knowledge. It will all fall away compared to what there will be. We will be too busy praising God and enjoying the fellowship of the saints, worshipping in perfect spirit and truth.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 7:9-12 NRSV

Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete. But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me. So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:9-13 GW

Full disclosure: While I have not ever had thoughts of seeing who’s right or wrong in heaven, God has been showing me how arrogant I am about how much I think I know, the mean thoughts I have and things I’ve done to people, and general lack of love. So while the post is scolding in manner, the same general sin applies to myself in many various ways.

A Biblical Twist on “Happy New Year”

A blessed (i.e., truly happy) New Year to you and yours in Immanuel! That’s what the Puritans wished each other. By “blessed” they did not mean, “I hope that everything goes your way this year, and that you don’t have any significant trials.” Rather, they meant, “I pray that whatever God sends your way this year in His providence—be it joys or sorrows, that all will be sanctified to your soul, so that you will grow in grace, be more conformed to Christ, and truly believe that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Then you and I will be truly happy indeed throughout 2016!

–Joel Beeke

via Pastor Tom

I’m afraid that if I write any commentary on this it will sound too negative, so I’ll let it speak for itself. I think it’s fantastic.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything?

Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Romans 8:28-39 HCSB

Bible Reading

This is a modified repost of something I wrote a couple of years ago. I also added in part of a post for those who feel that reading through the Bible is daunting. I was going to write a post on different types of reading and studying, but had forgotten I already mentioned that in this post.

I have been using Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System, mentioned below, and it’s been terrific. Some seem to think it’s an all inclusive thing when it comes to Bible ‘consumption’. It’s only one of the ways in helping us to know Scripture better. In the future I’d like to write more about it, and helpful apps that I found.

——————–

As the new year comes along, it’s always a good time to consider reading through the Bible, and this blog can’t go without a post on something so important. Scripture doesn’t command us to read it once a year, but there are many who live by a book they haven’t read in its entirety. There was a long period of time when I didn’t read my Bible as much as I should have, but I always loved it, and because of God re-instilling the want to do it, thankfully the enthusiasm and purpose returned later on.

It’s a mystery as to why this is difficult for so many people.

Some don’t seem to care, which is obviously a big problem.

Some want to, but just can’t get themselves to do it. I suppose time management is part of this. It shouldn’t be difficult because it only takes about ten minutes of reading a day to read through the book in a year. It may seem like a big task that’s hard to get started. More importantly, asking God to help one want to read it is as important as anything.

Many feel that they need to understand everything they read. I’ve learned that there are different objectives in the various types of reading and studying. Reading through the Bible is to familiarize ourselves with what it says. This needs to be done regularly, whether it’s once a year, twice a year or once every few years. We need to be saturated in Scripture to learn and be reminded of what it says, which is something the Holy Spirit helps us with (John 14:26). But we have to read it for him to remind us of what it says. Also, if Scripture interprets Scripture, then we need to read the Scripture that might interpret the Scripture that we’re interpreting. There is also repeated reading of smaller portions for even more familiarity. I did this with Proverbs when we studied it in a group and couldn’t get enough of it. I recently read through Colossians in just about every translation I have. There is ‘devotional’ reading, for lack of a better term, where we read a very small portion very slowly and intently and pray over everything we read. There are also various levels of study. Most of us can’t do all of these things at once, but reading through the Bible is primary.

Getting back to that–here is a great post on this subject:
How to Read the Whole Bible in 2014 – Justin Taylor

You can also find just about every type of reading plan there is on YouVersion. I would stay clear of many of the devotionals.

If you’re really ambitious, then you probably know about Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System. If you like to use the bookmarks, Nathan Bingham points us to some redesigned ones. YouVersion has an app that will last you 250 days. I may write about a few others in the future.

There are some of you reading this post who have an extraordinarily difficult time reading anything that takes concentration, whether it’s because of mental illness, medication, pain, learning disability or whatever. As the first of the previous links quotes, “it is better to read a single chapter of the Scriptures every day without fail, than to read 15 or 20 on an irregular, impulsive basis1.” And as someone else has said, nowhere in the Bible does it say that we need to read through it once a year.

There is no timetable, schedule, deadline, demand or guilt put on us by God. Although those who are able must get to know and spend time in the Bible, for those who it is a great challenge, just read one paragraph a day and think on it afterward or later in the day. If you can’t read, there are many audio sources out there for free. For this too, you can do a small amount a day. With all this talk of reading through the Bible in a year, or twice a year or 90 days, I want to encourage those who may feel guilt because of an unusual situation, to give it their all to just read a little and know that God is pleased with you because of what Christ did on the cross for you, not because of what you do. If you have limitations, God knew you would have these (Psalm 139:13-16) and created you to glorify Him (John 9:2-3).

What a great treasure we have. I pray that we will all relish Scripture more and more, and that God will reveal more of himself through His Spirit as we read and study.

Also see:

1. Cf. Orthodox Daily Prayers (South Canaan: St Tikhon’s Seminary Press, 1982), page 3: “It is better to say a few prayers every day without fail than to say a great number of prayers on an irregular, impulsive basis.”

Around the Web

Here is one I started and never really finished, so I’ll put it up as an abbreviated holiday link post.

How To Lose Your Zeal for Christ | Challies Dot Com

20 Cognitive Biases That Affect Your Exegesis | HeadHeartHand Blog

Carl Trueman on How John Owen Speaks to the Most Pressing Pastoral Issue of Our Day | TGC

Heart Corruptions

This is the last part of a prayer from The Valley of Vision. It describes so well what God is doing very recently, and what I want, even though the prayer is really about before and after being saved.

Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my pride,
at the false god of self,
and I lie in pieces before Thee.

But Thou hast given me another master and lord,
Thy Son, Jesus,
and now my heart is turned towards holiness,
my life speeds as an arrow from a bow
towards complete obedience to Thee.

Help me in all my doings to put down sin and to humble pride.
Save me from the love of the world and the pride of life,
from everything that is natural to fallen man,
and let Christ’s nature be seen in me day by day.
Grant me grace to bear Thy will without repining,
and delight to be not only
chiseled, squared, or fashioned,
but separated from the old rock
where I have been embedded so long,
and lifted from the quarry to the upper air,
where I may be built in Christ for ever.

Some of this almost sounds like an overly enthusiastic New Year’s resolution. These things may take a lifetime just to make some progress with God’s grace. Sometimes we want him to go faster, but when it comes to illuminating the depth of our sin, maybe not so much.

I need to remember this, along with things God has shown me in the past, such as not murmuring (The Art of Divine Contentment–I’ve been forgetting that one a lot lately), that I’m not my own, that I can’t straighten what is crooked (Ecclesiastes 1:15), that I’m not as abandoned to God* as I need to be (in which The Pursuit of God is a good barometer), and others.

*That may sound like a cliché, which isn’t usually me, but in my mind it’s a meaningful way of putting it. At least I didn’t write ‘sold out’ or ‘on fire’. (Emoticon goes here.)

Around the Web

Of the reading of many books… – Reformation21 Blog – more on this balanced view later…

Reflections on the Top 25 Christian Classics by Keith Mathison | Ligonier Ministries Blog

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Tell Everyone about Every Shooting | TGC

Credo Magazine » A very cool John Owen chronology by Lee Comings

More than a Game: A Theology of Sport | Themelios from The Gospel Coalition – This has been mentioned on Twitter about 100 times, but in case any of you missed it, this is a great article on sports. I’ve read about people who say watching sports is bad, like it’s a god, and other people never give it a second thought. This is about sports from a Biblical view.

The Paradox of Chronic Pain

Too often, when I’ve mentioned my chronic pain to fellow believers, they’ve responded with a possible cure or treatment. “You should see a chiropractor.” “How much magnesium are you getting?” “Are you familiar with essential oils?” Certainly these responses mean well, but they aren’t the most loving. Instead, we can offer each other a listening ear, offer sincere encouragement, and pray for the sufferer. I’ve probably received more than 100 potential cures and pieces of advice in the past year, and almost every suggestion has been unique. In other words, what works for one person’s experience of pain most likely won’t work for another’s.

In dealing with various chronic conditions, including pain and mental health issues, I’ve gotten this from all angles, although I’ve had it much less worse than many other people. I could write half a book about this. But that’s not really what the article is about. I just thought I’d post my ‘favorite’ part.

I haven’t quite come to the point where I can say that pain, both physical and mental, is a gift, as is written in the article, or that I see it that way. But without it, I don’t think God would have brought me so much closer to him than otherwise, and I am grateful that God does work through suffering. I can now see the paucity of my commitment and zeal in the past, even though I thought I was so deadly serious about my relationship with God, and now long for much more.

I’ll be working on some posts for after Christmas.

The Obligatory EOY Book Post

This is the time of year that everybody posts their favorite books of the year. I’ll just show you what I read and offer a few comments for anyone who might be interested.

Goodreads | Jeff’s Year in Books

There were very good books read this year. The Crook in the Lot had the most impact on me. Communion with the Triune God was probably the best book.

Mindscape was mediocre for me. It’s really not a bad book though. I just bought into the hype at the time with all of the blurbs by people I like. I don’t think it will be around a long time. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home was probably better as sermons, but it has good material. Horton’s systematic theology, The Christian Faith, was a whopper. It got too philosophical for me, but it was very good. I should have picked an easier one to read as my first one. I don’t feel a need to read another one anytime soon.

The rest were all very good. I learned a lot. By the way, the edition of Pilgrim’s Progress is a modernized version published by Crossway. Goodreads doesn’t have that in their system.

There will be a review of What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About coming soon.

I just happened to see that My Year in Books thing as I was adding a book to Goodreads, so I thought I’d make a post about it. I would like to read more next year than I did this year, although I’m reading more of the Bible (a post will be forthcoming about that) which takes some time away from reading other books, which is just fine.

Did you have any highlights?

Favorite Verses In Various Translations

I don’t have any favorites verses, but I have some favorite verses and passages in various translations that I don’t normally read. So I thought this might be a little more interesting of a blog post. I also have a couple of favorite changes the NIV made. That was my main translation for a couple of decades until I switched, but I still use it for comparison, and have had the two that are changed memorized. I thought I’d post them.

Any italic has been added to show what I like about it.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
John 14:23 KJV

I’ve never read the KJV–only have seen it quoted and heard it (you can close your mouth now). For some reason I like the word abode in addition to the whole idea of being in Christ. See the article Union with Christ by Michael Horton.

The dread of you makes my flesh creep;
I stand in awe of your decrees.
Psalm 119:120 REB

I like the vocabulary of the British-born REB, which is also very wide among the modern translations, in addition to being a fine literary translation. I almost switched to it at one time, but my reading comprehension wasn’t quite good enough, along with a few other reasons.

The TNIV was a revision of the NIV (1977), done in 1999. Then it was revised again in 2010, this time dropping the T and going back to NIV. I left it as TNIV to show the revision done at that time. These wordings are retained in the new NIV.

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.
Philemon 1:6 TNIV

This used to be rendered, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith,” which over time apparently came to mean “explaining the gospel”, which isn’t what Paul is saying. Over time, the word ‘share’ among Christians for some reason has come to mean any time anybody says anything, and it got pretty out of had in the 90’s and 2000’s, enough so that some translations modified the traditional rendering.

I can do all this everything through Christ who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 TNIV

One of the most popular verses among the successful, optimistic, or aspiring, mainly because they forgot to notice Philippians 4:11-12.*

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a man, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:5-8 NRSV

I never understood what ‘grasped’ meant, and by just changing the word to exploited, I suddenly could grasp what it meant. This is of course just as much my fault for not looking into it.

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Colossians 1:11-12 NRSV

I read the NRSV for three years after switching from the NIV. I especially like how this is worded. I recite it often.

For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times.
Romans 3:25 NLT1 (original 1996 version)

I love the freer (short) explanation of propitiation here. In the 2005 update, they changed it to the bland, “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin.”

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:13 NLT

I really like the wording here. This isn’t to say that I can judge the accuracy or faithfulness to the original language.

If your revelation hadn’t delighted me so,
I would have given up when the hard times came.
Psalm 119:92 The Message

For some reason I was looking into this verse in the commentaries, and The Message was the only translation I could find that conveyed what they were saying the verse meant. Maybe the other translators didn’t really pay attention and just used the traditional rendering. Some people hate that translation, which is understandable, but sometimes he really got it right. I feel sad when people call it an abomination or even satanic. Eugene Peterson loves God’s Word and is a pastor who loves his congregation enough to write an understandable translation of the whole Bible for them. (You have to wonder what he thought the intelligence level of his congregation was though.) He didn’t intend for it to be sold, and didn’t intend for people to laugh at it, although he probably should have had somebody check on some of those wordings. Some people just don’t know what’s cheesy and what’s not.

*HCSB Study Bible note:
4:13 All things refers to the economic fluctuations of life (v. 12). Through Him who strengthens me teaches that Christ empowers believers to live in God’s will. Paradoxically, Paul was strong when he was weak[2 Corinthians 12:10]; independent only when dependent. Such is the life of a disciple.”

The King Reigns After Death

“Their King … commences his reign by advancing to death.”

–John Calvin

What a great quote. It’s from his commentary, referring to John 12:12.

12 The next day, when the large crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 they took palm branches and went out to meet Him. They kept shouting: ” Hosanna! He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One–the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written:

15 Fear no more, Daughter Zion.
Look, your King is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt.

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first. However, when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.
John 12:12-16 HCSB

HT: Pastor Tom Provost

Around the Web

Seven Sentimental Lies You Might Believe | Desiring God – This is my big pet peeve area. It also mentions the movie The Princess Bride.

Saint Augustine on Prayer | Monergism – Excellent–I love what he says about suffering.

Praying the Bible vs. Interpreting the Bible

God Actually Spoke To Me – This is a rehash of a Piper devotional, which I read originally, but it’s just as great the 2nd time around.

Humble and Careful Theology

In the Bible God uses ordinary human language rather than a technically precise jargon. He does not include all the technical, pedantic details that would interest a scholar. By doing so, he speaks clearly to ordinary people, not merely to scholars with advanced technical knowledge. What God says is not exhaustive, but it is sufficient to save us and to provide a sure guide for our life.

Hence, the ordinary, humble readers of the Bible do all right. Paradoxically, scholars and would-be scholars can easily get into trouble by overestimating the degree of technical or pedantic precision in the Bible. They will then fall into mistakes that an ordinary reader of the Bible would not make. Therefore, if we are engaged in more scholarly theological reflection, we must become self-conscious about our language. Of course, most scholars do not explicitly do theology on the basis of some fully developed philosophy of language. Mistakes made without an explicit philosophy are nevertheless mistakes. And such mistakes do occur. In fact, mistakes, obscurities, inadequacies, and infelicities related to language occur with considerable frequency in our day, even in reputable, scholarly writings of theology.

Vern Poythress, Symphonic Theology: The Validity of Multiple Perspectives in Theology

Those of us who are going deeper into theology, which is a good thing. However I’ve read stories of elderly people who have suffered greatly and who love God, love reading their Bible, and have been sanctified over the course of their lives more than many who make a living as a theologian. We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves for knowing more terms and doctrine than some others. There will be people in heaven receiving their praise from God who never knew the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism.

Poythress is also saying that we shouldn’t make our theological terms too narrow (or too broad), along with concepts in Scripture. But that really needs the context of the book to be better understood.

We should also be aware that just because somebody is a famous scholar (if there is such a thing), that doesn’t automatically mean they’re right, whether it comes to theology, doctrine, exegesis, or original languages. (I’ve been reading more and more about the latter.) It seems that the less we know of a subject, the more we will trust others, especially if it seems to make sense at first (Proverbs 18:17).

For those of us who are more well versed, or becoming so, with theology:

“It is impossible, while Christ is in the eye of our faith as proposed in the gospel, but that we shall labor to be like Him and greatly love Him. Neither is there any way for us to attain to either of these, which are the great concerns of our souls (to be like to Christ and to love Him) but by a constant view of Him and His glory by faith; which powerfully and effectually works them in us. All the doctrinal knowledge which we have of Him is useless, all the view we have of His glory is but fancy, imagination, or superstition, which are not accompanied with this transforming power. And that which is wrought by it is the increase and vigor of all grace; for therein alone our conformity to Him consists. Growth in grace, holiness, and obedience is a growing like Christ; and nothing else is so.”

–John Owen, The Glory of Christ

And this comes by God’s Word.

Also:

“If we satisfy ourselves in mere notions and speculations about the glory of Christ as doctrinally revealed unto us, we shall find no transforming power or efficacy communicated unto us thereby. But when, under the conduct of that spiritual light, our affections do cleave unto him with full purpose of heart, our minds are filled with the thoughts of him and delight in him, and faith is kept up unto its constant exercise in trust and affiance on him, — virtue will proceed from him to purify our hearts, increase our holiness, strengthen our graces, and to fill us sometimes ‘with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'”

Regarding the text that I made italic–I’ve been using an hourly chime on my phone–and changing it when I don’t hear it anymore–for memorizing Scripture. But I have slowed down with that or I won’t be able to keep up with it as far as reviewing. So I also use it to remind me to pray during downtime, meditate on Scripture and God, or simply be aware of His presence if I’m busy with something (1 Chronicles 16:11). As John Owen has written, what better way is there to spend our thinking time than thinking of Him?

Search for the LORD and his strength.
Always seek his presence.
1 Chronicles 16:11 GW

Quote of the Day: Godly Fear

This is from Crossway’s edition of Pilgrim’s Progress by the Puritan John Bunyan. I recently learned that this is the second most read book other than the Bible.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Christian is the main character, a pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City (heaven), and Hopeful, a younger believer, who became his companion later in the journey. I really like this depiction of godly fear.

Christian said, “Without a doubt the right fear can be a good thing, for as the Word says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.'”1

“How would you describe right fear?” Hopeful inquired.

Christian explained, “True or right fear can be known by three things. First, by what causes it: the right kind of fear is caused by saving conviction of sin. Secondly, a good fear drives the soul to quickly lay hold of Christ for salvation. And thirdly, this fear begins and sustains in the soul a great reverence for God, His Word, and His ways. It keeps the soul tender, making it afraid to turn right or left from His Word and ways. It makes the soul sensitive to anything that might dishonor God, grieve the Spirit, or cause the enemy to speak against God.”

1 Proverbs 1:7, 9:10; Psalm 111:10; Job 28:28

Also see:
What Is Biblical Wisdom?
Fear of the Lord | Posts from Scripture Zealot blog