Archive for the 'Bible' Category

Luther and Spurgeon on Books

After using Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System for a year and a half, while also having a dry spell for reading books at the same time, I’ve realized the importance of Scripture and have been less into reading books. I’m praying that my ambition for outside reading will return, but God has been using this period in my life to show me some things.

Scripture is what changes us and shows us who God is. Some of us really love our books, but I have to be sure to keep the right priorities. I hate to admit that it wasn’t until last year that I was able to spend much more time with the Bible than with books.

“In time,” Luther opined, “my books will lie forgotten in the dust.” This was no lament on the Reformer’s part. In fact, Luther found much “consolation” in the possibility — or rather likelihood — that his literary efforts would soon fade into oblivion. The dim view he apparently took of his own writings was intimately related to the high view he took of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, his high view of Scripture resulted in a rather dim view of all other writings, not just his own. “Through this practice [namely, writing and collecting books],” he wrote, “not only is precious time lost which could be used for studying the Scripture, but in the end the pure knowledge of the divine Word is also lost, so that the Bible lies forgotten in the dust under the bench.” Making the same point in more colorful terms, Luther complained of the “countless mass of books” written over time which, “like a crawling swarm of vermin,” had served to supplant the place which should belong to “the Bible” in the life of the Church and her people. In sum, Luther judged that folk would be better off reading and hearing the Bible than reading and hearing anything which he or anyone else had written, and the last thing he wanted to be found guilty of was producing words which distracted anyone from the Word.

–Aaron Denlinger, Reformation 21 blog

All other books might be heaped together in one pile and burned with less loss to the world than would be occasioned by the obliteration of a single page of the sacred volume [Scripture]. At their best, all other books are but as gold leaf, requiring acres to find one ounce of the precious metal. But the Bible is solid gold. It contains blocks of gold, mines, and whole caverns of priceless treasure. In the mental wealth of the wisest men there are no jewels like the truths of revelation. The thoughts of men are vanity, low, and groveling at their best. but he who has given us this book has said, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Let it be to you and to me a settled matter that the word of the Lord shall be honored in our minds and enshrined in our hearts. Let others speak as they may. We could sooner part with all that is sublime and beautiful, or cheering and profitable, in human literature than lose a single syllable from the mouth of God.

–C.H. Spurgeon, from the sermon “Holy Longings,” as quoted in Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books by Tony Reinke, pp. 27-28

Photo of a Bible

Philippians 4:13-What Is Everything or All Things?

This is a Repost from 2008 (if you’d like to see the comments), except a comic from Adam4d has been added here that a friend tipped me off to, and an addendum. Also, this post was written when the TNIV was the update of the NIV which they released in 2005, before they changed it back to NIV in 2011. (If that’s confusing, there’s basically an original NIV from 1978 and it has been updated, with the TNIV rendering the same as the [more] updated NIV.)

Comic - Philippians 4:13

Click on the comic to go to his site.

Philippians 4:13 NASB
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 NIV [’78]
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 TNIV/NIV [2011]
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I really like the TNIV rendering. Can you imagine if the TNIV was the standard rendering throughout the years how this wouldn’t be constantly taken out of context (shown below) and/or misinterpreted? Even if it is a little bit interpretive.

Philippians 4:11-13 TNIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I’m not only learning the importance of context [and still am] but also that the word all or everything isn’t always “an amount or quantity from which nothing is left out or held back” even in English:

Everything
1.
a. All things or all of a group of things.
b. All relevant matters: told each other everything.
2. The most important fact or consideration: In business, timing is everything.
American Heritage Dictionary

Addendum:
This has implications for a lot of Bible interpretation.

Two books based on Philippians 4:11 are The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment and The Art of Contentment, both written by Puritans. I’ve read both and they’re excellent. The latter is shorter, but I prefer the former.

God’s Discipline and Our Obedience

Remember that for 40 years the LORD your God led you on your journey in the desert. He did this in order to humble you and test you. He wanted to know whether or not you would wholeheartedly obey his commands. … Learn this lesson by heart: The LORD your God was disciplining you as parents discipline their children. 6 Obey the commands of the LORD your God. Follow his directions, and fear him.
Deuteronomy 8:2, 5-6 GW

It’s easy to think this was for the Israelites. With our freedom in Christ, do we really need to obey commands?

“The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” 7 Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. 8 If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. 9 On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live?
Hebrews 12:6-9 GW

You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith–more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:5-7 HCSB

“Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21 GW (John 14:23, 15:14)

How great it is that we have a good God (Nahum 1:7) who is our King that gives us commands that are always for our good, and by wanting to obey them (which is something he instilled in us in the first place), he will show himself to us, live in us, eat with us (Rev 3:20), and love us.

Scripture of the Day

For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the Lord our God is [to us] whenever we call to Him? And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?
Deuteronomy 4:7-8 HCSB

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18 NIV

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20 NIV

God not only hears the prayers of believers when we pray according to his will (1 John 5:11), but we are in his favor. He wants to spend time with us as a Father. Even when we are in despair, and don’t trust him as we should, he is with us and is gracious towards us in one way or another, eventually presenting us with him in glory (Colossians 3:4).

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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

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.”

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 NLT Changes John 3:16!

This is old news I’m sure, but I just happened to find out that the NLT now uses contemporary wording for John 3:16 in order to reflect the meaning to modern readers. I always wondered why they used the old rendering. I’m not sure which year this change was made. Let me know if you do. (They now make minor changes frequently instead of major revisions.)

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

(The KJV is “For God so loved the world…”.)

Others before it that I know of are God’s Word, NET, HCSB, ISV, and Mounce (from the interlinear).

Here is a footnote from the HCSB:

16 “For God loved the world in this way:[a] He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

Footnotes:
John 3:16 The Gk word houtos, commonly translated in Jn 3:16 as “so” or “so much” occurs over 200 times in the NT. Almost without exception it is an adverb of manner, not degree (for example, see Mt 1:18). It only means “so much” when modifying an adjective (see Gl 3:3; Rv 16:18). Manner seems primarily in view in Jn 3:16, which explains the HCSB’s rendering.

I’m not suggesting the traditional KJV rendering (John 3:16 KJV), which is what nearly every other translation has borrowed from, is/was wrong or even not optimal. I’m not a language expert, but I believe that the people living in that time, and probably for many, many years after, understood it in this way. As language changes, I believe it’s OK to make some minor changes in translation. I think a good idea for a Bible would be to have one in the King James Version which has footnotes that explain any English words or phrases that might not be well understood to modern readers because of the older English.

Some might ask why the difference is important. While someone reading the KJV will still understand what Jesus did for us on the cross, the word love has many definitions and connotations. If we want to know not just that God loves the world (sinners), but how he loved the world, we can look to what he sent his Son to do for us on the cross to display his amazing grace for us.

For a much better and well thought out explanation on that, please see:

Thoughts On Guidance and Being Led By The Spirit

A few rambling thoughts and some not rambling quotes. I’m in a bit of a funk and don’t feel up to putting together a well-written post–if I’ve ever done one. I put horizontal lines between sections that don’t flow. Such a cheater.

I remember being in group Bible studies and the group would pray. Whoever was leading would say, “Go ahead and pray if you feel led.” I always thought, What if I want to pray but don’t feel led? Do I have to feel led to do anything? We can do good things without being whispered to.

Here is a verse that many people pull out and make a whole doctrine out of:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Romans 8:14

Tempted as we might be to consider the Spirit’s leading as referring to guidance for vocation (“Is the Spirit leading me to change jobs?”) or matrimony (“Is the Spirit leading me to many him/her?”), this is not what Paul has in view. Paul is justifying the conclusion he drew in verse 13, that putting sin to death by the power of the Spirit leads to life.

[…]

Instead of a preoccupation with issues of guidance (the preoccupation of our era), we should be concerned to ask the Lord:

“How can I live in a way that reflects the holiness of my Savior?”

“Will You show me how to deny myself?”

“Which sin, or part of a sin, am I to kill today?”

-Derek Thomas, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home

And he shows us these things largely though Scripture or something that’s a reminder from it.

Here it is again in context:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:12-15

We aren’t trusting God when we need to know what to do in every situation. We’re not trusting his guidance (Proverbs 16:9, 20:24) or his providence. God doesn’t always, or usually, tell us what to do outside of Scripture, or give us some sort of feeling when he wants us to do something. He also doesn’t turn his leading into a guessing game of “is this the Holy Spirit or…?”

We also have this need to want to know the future. Look at all of the ‘newspaper prophecy’ books. We have to trust that even if we make what looks like a good decision today, things may change tomorrow and it might not seem like such a good decision anymore. (Although we can only judge our decisions by the information and thought put into it at the time of the decision.) This is still within God’s providential plan. Just as God doesn’t tell us the future, other than what he clearly states in the Bible, he won’t always tell us what the best thing we can do for the future is. That doesn’t seem very helpful to us. Who are we to question God or make up our own doctrines that are more to our liking? His main concern is making us more like Christ. We know how God loves us by what he sent his Son to do on the cross for us, resulting in us being the children of a loving, merciful, kind, gentle Father. And yet like any child, we often like to do things our way, even if it has nothing to do with reality.

When Jesus says that His sheep “hear his voice,” He is not referring to an ongoing conversation like a telephone call. He was not saying that people would hear audible or inner voices from God. He was referring to His call to salvation. Jesus is calling His sheep to an endless life of fellowship with the living God. These believers follow Christ and show renewal in the new direction and commitment of their lives to Him.

–Tom Provost, Thus Saith The LORD Part 2 – Word of Life Wisconsin

I think it’s important that with terms like Biblical wisdom, we need to make sure we’re defining those terms according to what the Bible says. It’s easy for us to make assumptions based on our culture, whether that be at large or the Christian culture.

Here are some quotes about guidance from a previous post:

Finally, in all this, the matter of various horizons, the uncertainty of the future, the view of the life of the godly as beset with uncertainty and how we are to regard it and handle it, has importance for the topic of guidance. How does the Lord guide his people? Assuring us a Christian life with a beginning, a middle and an end, with the end being the tying up of all loose ends? It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.

–Paul Helm, Helm’s Deep: Ecclesiastes and the New Testament

Don’t spend your life waiting for God to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. God has already spoken.

–Carl Trueman

Our pictures of life are far too often like eating fast food, or like living under the shadow of a rule book, or like staring glassy-eyed out into the third heaven waiting for “a word from the Lord”. Wisdom challenges all this. It says to us, warmly yet firmly, “Grow up!”, “Mature!”, “Move beyond childhood into adulthood!”, “Use the mind God has given you!”

Wisdom is about learning to apply the gospel to every area of our thinking and doing. We will be tempted to justify our ignorance and mental laziness by saying that we’re trusting the Lord. We may even appeal to Proverbs 3:5-6 to defend this attitude. But that’s not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about. Rather, it encourages diligent, careful, prayerful, intelligent and enthusiastic exploration of life in the light of the gospel.

–Mark Storm, Symphony of Scripture

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

What Is Sola Scriptura?

I was doing some re-reading on sola Scriptura because it’s such an important doctrine, and one that I’ve always especially liked, even if I didn’t know what it was called. I remember being a rather young Christian and occasionally (meaning not nearly often enough) going to a Christian bookstore when I felt like getting a new book. When I paged through a book, if it didn’t have Scripture references sprinkled throughout it, I would immediately put it back on the shelf.

John MacArthur on the first of the five ‘solas’ of the Reformation:

The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. The most ardent defender of sola Scriptura will concede, for example, that Scripture has little or nothing to say about DNA structures, microbiology, the rules of Chinese grammar, or rocket science. This or that “scientific truth,” for example, may or may not be actually true, whether or not it can be supported by Scripture—but Scripture is a “more sure Word,” standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty. It is “more sure,” according to the apostle Peter, than the data we gather firsthand through our senses (2 Peter 1:19). Therefore, Scripture is the highest and supreme authority on any matter on which it speaks.

What Does Sola Scriptura Mean? by John MacArthur | Ligonier Ministries Blog

I believe that everything that fits under what sola Scriptura encompasses should be held up by Scripture (Acts 17:11, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22). We shouldn’t add or take away from Scripture, which is easier than we may think. If we say that the Holy Spirit told us something that can’t be confirmed in Scripture, we may be adding to it, even in a minor way.

Satan would love for us to come up with ideas that don’t conform to Scripture, often using others to influence us to believe teachings that aren’t biblical. Many times people aren’t malicious, just uninformed. Look at how many sayings there area that aren’t in line with what the Bible says. We need to check these things out for ourselves. It’s also easy for us to be disobedient in our own thinking and let ourselves get off of the right path. Sometimes this is due to laziness, where we just don’t feel like looking things up. We need to make every thought, idea put forth, argument, theory etc. captive to Christ, who is the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). I like what John Gill says about that:

And bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; or “carrying captive the whole understanding”; that is, so illustrating it with divine light, that it clearly sees Christ to be the alone, able, willing, full, and suitable Saviour, and so becomes obedient to him, both as a Saviour and a King; such an enlightened soul looks to him alone for life and salvation, ventures on him, and relies upon him, and is desirous and willing to be saved by him in his own way; he receives and embraces all his truths and doctrines with faith and love, and obeys them from the heart, and cheerfully and willingly submits to all his commands and ordinances; for though he is taken by the grace of God, and all his strong holds, reasonings, and high thoughts are demolished by the power of God in the Gospel, and he himself is carried captive, yet not against, but with his will, to be a voluntary subject of Christ, and cheerfully to submit to the sceptre of his kingdom.

In addition, the Bible isn’t an ‘owner’s manual for living life’. (Although, just like how owner’s manuals get put to the side, many Christians don’t read the Bible either, and then wander around aimlessly, making up rules as they go along.) It’s a living Word given to us by God about himself (Jeremiah 23:29, 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 4:12). We can’t always encounter a situation and ‘look it up in the manual’, although there are plenty of helpful rules that may directly apply to many situations. But we need to know it well enough so that we can acquire Biblical wisdom in order to live lives that are pleasing to God (Colossians 1:9-10).

I think the Five Solas are a great way to explain Reformed theology to someone new to it. TULIP is focused more on soteriology and can scare some people away if they are given that first thing.

This is why the internet needs self-appointed theology police, like me, to correct all the wrongs that are out there. (joke)

Wrong on the Internet

Wrong on the Internet

You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you.
Colossians 3:13 NLT

Images via Photobucket

The Dread of God

Is the fear of God on the decline? Culture slips in, “God is love”–although completely true (1 John 4:8; 16)–becomes all he is. Jesus has become only meek, mild, and tame.

Though many read the Psalms for comfort, there we can see how dreadful God’s judgement is through how the Psalmists portray it. Does this apply to ‘New Testament Christians’?

If we pay attention to all of what Jesus says in both the Gospels and Revelation, we can see that he isn’t tame, that he can’t stand sin and he is ready to eradicate it in a very non-meek way in the end. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).

Two benefits that I see to respecting God’s wrath is that: 1) We can better appreciate what Jesus did on the cross for us by receiving the wrath we deserve. 2) It compels us to be holy as he is holy (1 Peter 1:16)–wanting to please our Father by learning more about his holiness and imitating it, as feebly as we do. Thank God that he compels us, strengthens us, and shows us how to become more like him.

I like how the Revised English Bible translates Psalm 119:120:

The dread of you makes my flesh creep,
I stand in awe of your decrees.

In the verses before this, the Psalmist is recounting God’s judgement of sinners.

Here is what Spurgeon has to say in The Treasury of David:

“My flesh trembleth for fear of thee.” [KJV] Such was his awe in the presence of the Judge of all the earth, whose judgment he had just now been considering, that he did exceedingly fear and quake. Even the grosser part of his being, – his flesh felt a solemn dread at the thought of offending one so good and great, who would so effectually sever the wicked from among the just. Alas, poor flesh, this is the highest thing to which thou canst attain! “And I am afraid of thy judgments.” God’s words of judgment are solemn, and his deeds of judgment are terrible; they may well make us afraid. At the thought of the Judge of all, – his piercing eye, his books of record, his day of assize, and the operations of his justice, – we may well cry for cleansed thoughts, and hearts, and ways, lest his judgments should light on us. When we see the great Refiner separating the precious from the vile, we may well feel a godly fear, lest we should be put away by him, and left to be trodden under his feet.

Love in Psalm 119:119 is quite consistent with fear in this verse, the fear which hath torment is cast out, but not the filial fear which leads to reverence and obedience.

The Lord Watches Over Everyone

Unpopular Scripture of the Day:

I am going to watch over them. I am going to watch over them to bring disasters, not blessings. In Egypt the people from Judah will die in wars and famines until everyone is gone. 28 Those who escape the wars will return to Judah from Egypt. Then all the people of Judah who went to live in Egypt will know whose words have come true, mine or theirs. 29 I will give you this sign,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will punish you in this place so that you will know that my threats of disaster will happen to you. 30 This is what the Lord says: I’m going to hand Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt, over to his enemies and to those who want to kill him, just as I handed over King Zedekiah of Judah to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to those who wanted to kill him.’”
Jeremiah 44:27-29

John Calvin says,

I will watch over them, he says, for evil and not for good. This mode of speaking we have observed elsewhere, and explained why the Prophets spoke thus, even because hypocrites, though they think God cares not for human affairs, and imagine that he sleeps in heaven, and hence audaciously provoke him [see context before this passage], as though they were fugitives and their purpose hid from God, yet boast of God’s providence, and pretend that they acquiesce confidently in him. For this reason the Prophet answered, that God watched indeed, but not for good. We then perceive the object of the Prophet; he derided the presumption of the people, who thought that God had a care for their safety. He then says, that God indeed does not sleep, but that this would bring no benefit to hypocrites; for though God watches as a father to preserve his own people, he yet watches as a judge to destroy all the ungodly.

We can be sure that God is watching over the evil that is done and will punish now or certainly at the end. We need to remember how much more God hates sin than we do.

He is also always watching over his children, whether good or bad comes. I always cringe when somebody averts disaster and says, “God was really watching over us”, because as I see it, this implies that God wasn’t watching over them if bad would have happened. (I understand that most people say this sincerely.) We will have trouble in this world (John 16:33 as just one example of many) but God will work it for the good of those who love him–who have been called according to his purpose–namely, his children (Romans 8:28). This to make them more like Christ–infinitely more important that any temporal thing we can receive (we mustn’t leave out Romans 8:29).

We Are Slaves of Christ

As opposed to servants, not that we don’t serve. We were “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Revelation 5:9). A very great price. Most English translations avoid using the word slave when referring to believers, although that’s changing.

The underlying Greek word is doulos, which always means slave. I realize that the way languages work, there is often more than one definition for a word given its context. But I’m agreeing with those who say that doulos always means slave, as opposed to servant or bondservant (1 Corinthians 7:22 ESV). The word “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times” according to the entry on doulos in A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament by Bauer along with Gingrich and Danker, often referred to and known as BDAG by scholars. (If you like to read commentaries you will find that referenced a lot.) In other words, it’s always translated as ‘slaves’ in most literature, with English (I suppose) Bible translations being an exception, which is regrettable.

Here are some examples. The ESV uses the traditional KJV, ASV, RSV rendering and HCSB, NLT, NET, and parts of the NASB use ‘slave’ when describing our identity in Christ.

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news–
Rom 1:1 HCSB

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 NASB

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 ESV

And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.
1 Cor 7:22 NLT

For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ.
1 Cor 7:22 ESV

Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!
Gal 1:10 NET

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Gal 1:10 ESV

You cannot be slaves of God and of money.
Matt 6:24 HCSB

You cannot serve God and money.
Math 6:24 ESV

(The translation I read, God’s Word, uses ‘servant’ the majority of the time. Can’t have everything.)

John MacArthur wrote a book on this subject called Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. As he is wont to do, he goes a little bit far and calls using the word servant a conspiracy among translators. I’m not sure how translators get together to conspire about this, but it sounds like an otherwise good book. MacArthur was apparently unaware of the newer translations–that not being his forte. He has a sermon you can find online” Slaves for Christ. There is also a book called Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ by Murray J. Harris.

Why is this important? John MacArthur says in an interview:

I read the other day the No. 1 group in the world in drawing audiences is YouTube; No. 2 is Joel Osteen. How in the world did that happen? But what’s his message? This message is whatever you want, whatever you desire, whatever you dream, whatever your heart longs for, Jesus wants to come along and give it to you. So now you have an inverted Christianity in which you are Lord and he’s your slave. That doesn’t exist if you understand what it means to confess Jesus is Lord and you’re his slave. That has been allowed to flourish to such a massive degree along with the health, wealth prosperity message which basically says the same thing – you’re in charge and Jesus will give you what you want. This whole inversion is because of a skewed understanding of doulos.

Read the rest here:
Interview: John MacArthur on Being a 'Slave' for Christ
Even if you don’t like John MacArthur, I think you might like this. I certainly did.

I wish I would have known this a long time ago, although the concept of us not being our own has already made a significant impact in my life with God.

Although we are slaves of Christ, we are also heirs, and he even treats us as friends:

Listen, my dear brothers: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him?
James 2:5 HCSB

I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.
John 15:15 HCSB

Be still and let Scripture interpret Scripture

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10

For some reason, many people have made this verse out to be about prayer. As if we should sit and be still and listen for God to speak and receive ‘A word from the Lord‘. If you look at the context, it says nothing of the sort. If we’d like to hear from God, he wrote a great book that we can read at any time. It’s amazing.

Although the context of Psalm 46 is pretty clear, when reading in Exodus, I saw a great example of Scripture interpreting Scripture in a specific situation. I don’t know Hebrew, and can’t compare the vocabulary or confirm this is an absolute parallel, but I think it’s similar enough to be a valid repetition in Scripture that strengthens ideas. Finding them is one of the objectives of Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System.

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:10-14 (emphasis added) both NIV