Monthly Archive for March, 2008

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

There are plenty of blogs and message board posts of Christians criticizing each other. Some are legitimately pointing out false teachers who are knowingly or unknowingly leading others astray. Some are pointing out teachings that are unscriptural. But others are just Christians calling other Christians names and treating each other in a disrespectful way.

Sometimes we should just let it go:

Romans 14:8-10
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God;

Sometimes we need to act differently:

‘Think of people you consider fanatical. They’re overbearing, self-righteous, opinionated, insensitive and harsh,’ Mr. Keller says. ‘Why? It’s not because they are too Christian but because they are not Christian enough. They are fanatically zealous and courageous, but they are not fanatically humble, sensitive, loving, empathetic, forgiving, or understanding—as Christ was.’

–Tim Keller

By the way, he is one of the people who is often maligned among certain groups of people. I don’t know enough of him to have an opinion.

I thought I would get together just a few Scripture references specifically dealing with respect. This is a reminder to myself as much as anyone else.

Romans 12:10
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:16-18
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Titus 3:2
to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

James 2:12-13
So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

Wine

I was sick this week and didn’t post yet (whine?). Today I’ll just mention an interesting post on another blog on the subject of wine:
Does God Drink Wine?

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not two-faced, not given to excessive drinking,
1 Timothy 3:8 NET

Psalm 119:92 with a surprise ending

Most translations of Psalm 119:92 go something like this:

If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction. (TNIV)

To me the word perish means to pass away, die a physical death, be destroyed etc.

Matthew Henry says:

He was in affliction, and ready to perish in his affliction, not likely to die, so much as likely to despair; he was ready to give up all for gone, and to look upon himself as cut off from God’s sight; he therefore admires the goodness of God to him, that he had not perished, that he kept the possession of his own soul, and was not driven out of his wits by his troubles, but especially that he was enabled to keep close to his God and was not driven off from his religion by them.

John Gill says:

must have perished, not eternally, but as to his comforts: his heart would have fainted in him, and he would have sunk under the weight of the affliction, had it not been for the relief he had from the word of God, the doctrines and promises of it;

So what is the only translation I found that conveys the meaning of this verse to me?

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

I’ll just say that I don’t like The Message a lot, to put it in my vernacular. I’ve never seen a single verse or passage quoted that I liked until now. This is the only translation I found that conveys the meaning to me. Let’s just keep this between you and me. I know as of now there are about 6.7 trillion people who don’t read this blog.

For more reading:
C.H. Spurgeons’s The Treasury of David

“Christian” Counseling

This is bound to offend many but I thought I would throw it out there.

Certainly, Scripture does not claim to be a thorough textbook on medicine, or physics, or any of the sciences. But psychology differs from these in two important regards. First, psychology is not a true science…. Second, and most significant, psychology, unlike medicine and physics, deals with matters that are fundamentally spiritual. In fact, the word psychology literally means, “study of the soul.” What are the deep psychological needs if they are not the spiritual issues the gospel is concerned with? And Scripture certainly does claim absolute sufficiency in addressing those needs: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added). “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:7). Scripture itself promises believers the most comprehensive spiritual resources: “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

–John MacArthur

In other words, while the Bible was never intended to be a textbook for disciplines such as math or physics, it does claim to be an all-sufficient guide for godly living. Therefore, if the goal of Christian counseling is godliness in the life of the counselee, the counselor need not look beyond the wisdom found in the pages of Scripture to be equipped for his task. For if the counselee’s problem is spiritual in nature, Scripture is sufficient to meet the demand. On the other hand, if the problem is the inability to bake tasty muffins, a cookbook might be a better place to look.

–Matt Waymeyer

From:
2+2=4 and the Sufficiency of Scripture

Jay Adams is an author of books that deal with true Christian counseling. If you look at the table of contents (PDF file) of his book A Theology of Christian Counseling among others you’ll find that it’s about spritual maturity through Biblical principles.

HCSB Web Site Feature

I like what I’ve seen so far of the HCSB translation. I bought an inexpensive one on Amazon to try out for a while. If I like it better than any other I want to wait for next year’s revision to buy one I really want. Otherwise I’ll stick with my NRSV.

I went to their site today and found a very useful feature. The translation is heavily footnoted. If you’re unfamiliar with the site, try it out and click on a footnote, which is a number inside brackets (as opposed to verse numbers). The footnote will expand. (This works for me on Windows XP using Microsoft Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari but unfortunately not Firefox.) Some are explanations of a word, some are alternate translations and some are cross references.
http://hcsb.broadmanholman.com/crossmain.asp

Update: You can also hover over a bullet point word to see a definition.

Psalm 23 …your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 23

In Psalm 23 many people equate His rod with discipline. This doesn’t fit the context of the Psalm. Would He make them lie down in green pastures and lead them beside quiet waters and then beat them with a rod?

Verse 4 says: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.” (NRSV) A rod of discipline wouldn’t make sense in this context.

God does discipline us as Hebrews 12:5-11 describes. But verse 11 says “Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time,”. When we are in the darkest valley, our Shepherd upholds us and comforts us.

Here are a collection of quotes from commentators.

William Barclay from Jesus As They Saw Him:

He [the shepherd] had his rod and his staff. The staff was a long crooked stick. Always the shepherd walked with it in his hand, and, when a sheep showed signs of straying, he would stretch out and pull it back with the crook. He carried the rod at his belt. It was a stout piece of wood, perhaps three feet long, with a lump of wood the size of an orange at one end of it. With this the shepherd fought the battles of the flock, using it to drive off wild beasts and to defend the flock against the robbers who would steal the sheep.

John Gill:

thy rod and thy staff they comfort me; not the rod of afflictions and chastisements, which is the sense of some Jewish as well as Christian interpreters; though these are in love, and the saints have often much consolation under them; but these are designed by the valley of the shadow of death, and cannot have a place here, but rather the rod of the word, called the rod of Christ’s strength, and the staff of the promises and the provisions of God’s house, the whole staff and stay of bread and water, which are sure unto the saints, and refresh and comfort them. The Targum interprets the rod and staff of the word and law of God; and those interpreters who explain the rod of afflictions, yet by the staff understand the law; and Jarchi expounds it, of the mercy of God in the remission of sin, in which the psalmist trusted: the allusion is to the shepherd’s crook or staff, as in other places; see Micah 7:14; which was made use of for the telling and numbering of the sheep, Lev. 27:32; and it is no small comfort to the sheep of Christ that they have passed under his rod, who has told them, and that they are all numbered by him; not only their persons, but the very hairs of their head; and that they are under his care and protection: the shepherd with his rod, staff, or crook, directs the sheep where to go, pushes forward those that are behind, and fetches back those that go astray; as well as drives away dogs, wolves, bears, etc. that would make a prey of the flock; and of such use is the word of God, attended with the power of Christ and his Spirit; it points out the path of faith, truth, and holiness, the saints should walk in; it urges and stirs up those that are negligent to the discharge of their duty, and is the means of reclaiming backsliders, and of preserving the flock from the ravenous wolves of false teachers: in a word, the presence, power, and protection of Christ, in and by is Gospel and ordinances, are what are here intended, and which are the comfort and safety of his people, in the worst of times and cases.

Adam Clarke:

Thy rod and thy staff – שבטך shibtecha, thy scepter, rod, ensign of a tribe, staff of office; for so שבט shebet signifies in Scripture. And thy staff, ומשענתך umishantecha, thy prop or support. The former may signify the shepherd’s crook; the latter, some sort of rest or support, similar to our camp stool, which the shepherds might carry with them as an occasional seat, when the earth was too wet to be sat on with safety. With the rod or crook the shepherd could defend his sheep, and with it lay hold of their horns or legs to pull them out of thickets, boys, pits, or waters.We are not to suppose that by the rod correction is meant: there is no idea of this kind either in the text, or in the original word; nor has it this meaning in any part of Scripture. Besides, correction and chastisement do not comfort; they are not, at least for the present, joyous, but grievous; nor can any person look forward to them with comfort. They abuse the text who paraphrase rod correction, etc.

Thomas Tymme from The Treasury of David:

“For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Is God’s “staff” waxen so weak, that we dare not now lean too much thereon, lest it should break? or is he now such a changeling, that he will not be with us in our trouble according to his promise? Will he not give us this “staff” to stay us by, and reach us his hand to hold us up, as he hath been wont to do? No doubt but that he will be most ready in all extremity to help, according to his promise. The Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, saith thus; Fear not, for I will defend thee,” etc. Isaiah 43.

Ligonier Ministries – New Blog

Ligonier Ministries has a new blog. Of particular interest is an interview with Sinclair Ferguson which has some insight into Calvin, who Jesus is, doctrine, salvation etc.

HT: Challies.com

The Providence of God

I always thought that God’s providence means that He will provide. Apparently I got that wrong, probably in part because the word provide is within the word providence.

In the book Trusting God by Jerry Bridges, he quotes J.I. Packer defining it as:

The unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory.

Jerry Bridges himself has developed a more succinct version:

God’s providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all his creation for His own glory and the good of His people.

For further reference and Scripture:

Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary
Providence
literally means foresight, but is generally used to denote God’s preserving and governing all things by means of second causes (Ps. 18:35; Ps. 63:8; Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3). God’s providence extends to the natural world (Ps. 104:14; Ps. 135:5-7; Acts 14:17), the brute creation (Ps. 104:21-29; Matt. 6:26; Matt. 10:29), and the affairs of men (1 Chr. 16:31; Ps. 47:7; Prov. 21:1; Job 12:23; Dan. 2:21; Dan. 4:25), and of individuals (1 Sam. 2:6; Ps. 18:30; Luke 1:53; James 4:13-15). It extends also to the free actions of men (Ex. 12:36; 1 Sam. 24:9-15; Ps. 33:14-15; Prov. 16:1; Prov. 19:21; Prov. 20:24; Prov. 21:1), and things sinful (2 Sam. 16:10; 2 Sam. 24:1; Rom. 11:32; Acts 4:27, 28), as well as to their good actions (Phil. 2:13; Phil. 4:13; 2 Cor. 12:9-10; Eph. 2:10; Gal. 5:22-25). As regards sinful actions of men, they are represented as occurring by God’s permission (Gen. 45:5; Gen. 50:20. Comp. 1 Sam. 6:6; Ex. 7:13; Ex. 14:17; Acts 2:3; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:27-28), and as controlled (Ps. 76:10) and overruled for good (Gen. 50:20; Acts 3:13). God does not cause or approve of sin, but only limits, restrains, overrules it for good. The mode of God’s providential government is altogether unexplained. We only know that it is a fact that God does govern all his creatures and all their actions; that this government is universal (Ps. 103:17-19), particular (Matt. 10:29-31), efficacious (Ps. 33:11; Job 23:13), embraces events apparently contingent (Prov. 16:9, 33; Prov. 19:21; Prov. 21:1), is consistent with his own perfection (2 Tim. 2:13), and to his own glory (Rom. 9:17; Rom. 11:36).

Webster
3. In theology, the care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures. He that acknowledges a creation and denies a providence, involves himself in a palpable contradiction; for the same power which caused a thing to exist is necessary to continue its existence. Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars. A belief in divine providence, is a source of great consolation to good men. By divine providence is often understood God himself.

Why I Blog

I don’t like writing about myself but thought this might be a good way to describe the purpose of this blog for those who are too lazy to read the About page. <smiley would go here>

This subject has been going around the biblioblogosphere.

Rule 1) List three reasons for your blogging.

  1. To record what I’m learning and cement my thoughts.
    • Writing things down often prompts me to look up more Scripture and do a little more research than I normally would.
    • When I read commentaries, I usually post the things that stuck out to me about a month after I read them. This helps me to better retain what I learn.
    • I’m going through the NT by reading carefully and reading commentaries to clear up misconceptions, false teachings or find Scripture for true teachings and (try my best) to develop sound doctrine.
  2. To have a repository for what I learn and for quotes, articles and blog posts that I collect.
  3. Hopefully others can learn a little with me.

This may sound the oppostite of altruistic and it is, partly because I don’t claim to be able to offer any new scholarly insights.

I would love to learn from others by their posting comments to this blog. The problem with that is my blog is a “tween-er”. I’m not a scholar and am not scholarly enough for scholarly people to want to read and post to this blog. (Although I do get an occasional gem from Estaban and others.) And this blog may be a little much for those who are casual Bible readers but come across it doing a search for something like Jeremiah 29:11 (link) or free will.

I’m so blessed in that God has given me a zeal for Him and His Word. I want to learn and grow more and more* in all spiritual knowledge and wisdom.

we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Colossians 1:9 b NRSV

*possibly a future post

Psalm 119:97-104

Bible

How I love Your teaching!
It is my meditation all day long.
Your command makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is always with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers
because Your decrees are my meditation.
I understand more than the elders
because I obey Your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
to follow Your word.
I have not turned from Your judgments,
for You Yourself have instructed me.
How sweet Your word is to my taste—
[sweeter] than honey to my mouth.
I gain understanding from Your precepts;
therefore I hate every false way
Psalms 119:97-104 HCSB

“Signs of Living to Please God” by Richard Baxter

This has been posted on quite a few blogs. I’m not sure who to give a hat tip (HT) to or who’s copying who so I’ll skip that. In any case this writing of Richard Baxter’s is out of copyright so it’s perfectly fine to use freely.

I would like to do something a little different. I would like to find more Scripture than what has been posted previously for each item as an exercise for myself, list the Scripture before each item and post it in full so that people will be more likely to read it. I will use the KJV just for ambiance but if you click on the Scripture reference link you can view it in NLT if you would like.

Quoted text is Richard Baxter.

See therefore that you live upon God’s approval as that which you chiefly seek, and will suffice you: which you may discover by these signs.

1.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple.
The statutes of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart:
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring for ever:
the judgments of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,
yea, than much fine gold:
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Psalms 19:7-11

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:3-4

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?
by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
With my whole heart have I sought thee:
O let me not wander from thy commandments.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart,
that I might not sin against thee.
Psalms 119:9-11

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
1 John 3:22

You will be most careful to understand the Scripture, to know what doth please and displease God.

2.
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Colossians 3:23

For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

You will be more careful in the doing of every duty, to fit it to the pleasing of God than men.

3.
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalms 139:23-24

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
2 Corinthians 13:5

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

You will look to your hearts, and not only to your actions; to your ends, and thoughts, and the inward manner and degree.

4.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight,
O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:1-6

You will look to secret duties as well as public and to that which men see not, as well as unto that which they see.

5.
And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
Acts 24:16

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
John 14:26

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
James 4:17

You will reverence your consciences, and have much to do with them, and will not slight them: when they tell you of God’s displeasure, it will disquiet you; when they tell you of his approval, it will comfort you.

6.
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
Romans 15:2

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:9-10

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Your pleasing men will be charitable for their good, and pious in order to the pleasing of God, and not proud and ambitious for your honour with them, nor impious against the pleasing of God.

7.
For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written,
As I live, saith the Lord,
every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
Romans 14:8-12Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Whether men be pleased or displeased, or how they judge of you, or what they call you, will seem a small matter to you, as their own interest, in comparison to God’s judgment. You live not on them. You can bear their displeasure, censures, and reproaches, if God be but pleased. These will be your evidences.

Facetious Christian Book Titles

Originally posted on March 8, 2008:

Here are some facetious but Biblically accurate book titles I was thinking of. Do you think they would sell?

  • The Sermon on the Mount: How To Lose Your Self Esteem
  • Your Best Life Then – How God Uses Weakness and Suffering To Achieve Your Spiritual Potential
  • Be Prepared: Things Can Always Get Worse
  • How God Ordains Evil

Just plain facetious:

  • How To Start a Coffeeshop In Your Church

Do you have any to add?