What does the Bible have to say about life in 2015? Anything? I mean, when I look at the Bible, people are sacrificing animals, walking around in robes, and the central figure calls Himself the Son of God.
What does any of that have to do with how I drive to work on Monday morning, how I parent my children, or how I go to the grocery store?
The question that I am really getting after is this: Is the Bible sufficient for our lives today? Is it possible that a book written thousands of years ago, in a different culture, addresses our lives in 2015? Does God’s Word address my world and my problems?
Have you ever wondered if the Bible is really able to help you with your deepest problems? Have you struggled to know what to do with your life, and wished you had some special word from the Lord? Have you ever thought to yourself that the biblical teaching on sexuality needs updating? Have you ever wished for a more direct, more personal revelation than what you get from slowly reading through the Bible? Have you ever secretly wanted to add something to the word of God— you know, just to make things safer? Have you ever wanted to take something away to make the Bible more palatable? Have you ever assumed that the Bible doesn’t say anything about how to worship God or how to order his church? Have you ever felt like the Bible just wasn’t enough for living a faithful life in today’s world? If you can answer yes to any of these questions— and we all will at times— then you are struggling with the sufficiency of Scripture.
DeYoung, Kevin (2014-04-30). Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (pp. 43-44). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV)
Above is the often quoted verse about God’s Word. But, Christian, do you believe this verse? Do you really believe it? Do you believe that God’s Word is breathed out by God? And not only that, do you believe His Word is profitable for your life in 2015?
God’s Word does not need us to help it out! We do not need to try to improve it by adding to it. It is, after all, GOD’S Word. We do not need to take away from it, make it more palatable, or anything of the sort. Our job is to respond to its glory and power, not attempt to improve it! (Wow, how full of pride are we when we think it is our job to “fix” or update God’s Word.)
We can say all the right things about the Bible, and even read it regularly, but when life gets difficult, or just a bit boring, we look for new words, new revelation, and new experiences to bring us closer to God. We feel rather ho-hum about the New Testament’s description of heaven, but we are mesmerized by the accounts of school-age children who claim to have gone there and back . From magazine articles about “My Conversation with God” (see chapter 2), to best-selling books where God is depicted as giving special, private communications, we can easily operate as if the Bible were not enough. If we could only have something more than the Scriptures, then we would be really close to Jesus and know his love for us.
DeYoung, Kevin (2014-04-30). Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (pp. 45-46). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
1.) How we go about our day is one way to help us to consider our view of the sufficiency of Scripture.
Let’s say that you are having some problems, and you are not sure where to turn.
Is your reflex to ask what does the Bible say? How might the Bible address this problem?
Or, is your reflex to ask what does this popular author say, what does my friend think, let me call my pastor, etc. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with getting input from friends and pastors, and…. The Bible itself tells us there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.
But, I am talking about an unintended or perhaps intended view of Scripture that subtly thinks God’s Word can’t help me on this one. I need a New York Bestselling author for this problem. Or I need the wisdom of a Piper, Sproul, or Keller. (All favorites of mine, by the way…) While these authors can be a source of help, be sure you are not using them, or others, in a way that actually diminishes the sufficiency of God’s Word. Pastors, teachers, authors, and friends can be a source directing us to grow, trust, and rely on God’s Word or, they can be replacing God’s Word.
God’s Word is sufficient. It is our authority and it is sufficient for all of life!
2.) How we build our churches is one way we dismiss the sufficiency of God’s Word.
What are we saying with the dog and pony show in the church today? What is needed in our churches is not more entertainment, flashy worship sets, or CEO pastors. What is needed is the Word of the very living God! Paul to Timothy: Preach the Word!
How we “do” church says a lot about what we believe about God’s Word. Is it sufficient or does it need props?
3.) The Word is sufficient for growing in Christ
God has given us all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1: 3); Scripture is enough to make us wise for salvation and holy unto the Lord (2 Tim. 3: 14– 17). If we learn to read the Bible down (into our hearts), across (the plot line of Scripture), out (to the end of the story), and up (to the glory of God in the face of Christ), we will find that every bit of the Bible is profitable for us. To affirm the sufficiency of Scripture is not to suggest that the Bible tells us everything we want to know about everything, but it does tell us everything we need to know about what matters most. Scripture does not give exhaustive information on every subject, but in every subject on which it speaks, it says only what is true. And in its truth we have enough knowledge to turn from sin, find a Savior, make good decisions, please God, and get to the root of our deepest problems.
DeYoung, Kevin (2014-04-30). Taking God At His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (pp. 54-56). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
4.) A sufficient Savior is what matters most in 2015!
“It is finished”
Jesus Christ on the cross.
Consider the sufficiency of what Christ accomplished on the cross! Nothing more can be added to His sacrifice. No human effort adds anything to your salvation. No Bible reading, obedience, giving, serving, or any other thing adds to what Christ has done in any way at all! His death on the cross atoned for sins and the moment I try to add to that atonement, I have belittled the sufficiency of the Savior.
Thanking God today that the Word of God is sufficient!
The below is taken in entirety from In The Line Of Fire by Michael Brown. While, I am wanting to write my own response to recent Rob Bell comments. My thoughts are many, and time is…. limited. So, for now, the below will have to suffice.
My quick response before I turn it over to Mr. Brown.
May our hearts grow in conviction for this 2,000 yr old book and its absolute relevance in our lives today!! Is there anything more relevant than the God of the Universes revealing Himself and Redemption to us?!? Rob Bell thinks God’s Word to be irrelevant…. Does that make Rob Bell irrelevant?
For those who had any questions, Rob Bell has now made himself totally clear: He is willing to trash parts of the Bible as “letters from 2,000 years ago” when God’s Word contradicts his views on same-sex “marriage.”
Bell appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program together with his wife, Kristen, to promote their new book The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. In an interview last December, Bell explained that on page 16 of the book, he and Kristen give their “whole hearted affirmation” to same-sex “marriage.”
That was no surprise in light of his announcement in 2013 that he supported redefining marriage. In fact, that had been his position for years, although he had not proclaimed it publicly prior to 2013.
But on Oprah’s show, he and Kristen went much further, dismissing the words of Scripture and criticizing churches that were determined to be faithful to God.
Explaining to Oprah why they included “gay marriage” in their book, Rob said, “One of the oldest aches in the bones of humanity is loneliness. Loneliness is not good for the world. Whoever you are, gay or straight, it is totally normal, natural and healthy to want someone to go through life with. It’s central to our humanity. We want someone to go on the journey with.”
Of course, he’s absolutely right in terms of the importance of intimate personal relationships.
God made us to be relational beings, but in a very specific way. He formed Eve as the fit companion and helper for Adam, the two of them uniquely designed to complement each other in the journey and mission of life.
And Paul’s solution to loneliness (and, even more so, to temptation) was specific as well: “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2).
He didn’t say, “Each person should have his or her own companion,” because that was never God’s intent for His creation.
In contrast, what the Bells want to do is take God’s very specific, beautiful blueprint, and radically redesign it in the name of “love.”
To be sure, the church needs to take on the burden of those who struggle with same-sex attraction, helping them in every way possible find personal and relational wholeness in Jesus. But we are hurting them rather than helping them when we think we know better than God.
Rob Bell was then asked by Oprah when the church was going to embrace same-sex “marriage,” to which he responded, “We’re close,” with Kristen adding, “I think it’s evolving.”
Rob then explained, “Lots of people are already there. We think it’s inevitable, and we’re moments … ,” at which point Oprah chimed in, “Moments away from the church accepting it?”
Rob’s answer said it all: “Absolutely … I think culture is already there, and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”
So, according to Rob Bell, the church of Jesus should follow worldly culture and deny the plain teaching of God’s Word in order to be “relevant.” (For my thoughts on the idolatry of “relevance,” click here.)
And according to Bell, human feelings trump God’s Word, which can easily be dismissed as outdated—2,000 years outdated, it appears.
I guess what’s trending on Twitter trumps the timeless wisdom of the living Word of the living God.
I guess an emotional appeal carries far more weight than transcendent truth.
That’s similar to what Methodist Pastor Frank Schaeffer told me on my radio broadcast last year, explaining that he had to revise his views on the Bible and same-sex “marriage” after his son came out as gay but would “absolutely” have to restudy the issue if his son reversed his position about homosexuality.
Talk about loving your son or daughter (or father or mother) more than Jesus (see Matt. 10:37)
But that is exactly what Rob Bell is calling for: Go with the culture, stay “relevant,” dismiss the outdated biblical evidence and listen to your emotions.
Kristen, for her part, explained that some churches are just not getting with the program: “There are churches who are moving forward,” she said, “and there are churches who are almost regressing and making it more of a battle.”
How antiquated! How backwards! How embarrassing!
How dare these churches entrench themselves against the onslaught of worldly culture.
How dare they continue to resist the redefining of marriage and the rewriting of the sacred Scriptures.
How dare they hold fast to their position that God’s ways are best.
How dare they not get with the program of liberal progressivism.
The bad news is that many professing Christians are capitulating to culture and abandoning the holy and wholesome ways of the Lord.
The good news is that the Word of God stands forever (Is. 40:7-8; Matt. 24:35), and one day, Oprah Winfrey, with all her massive influence, and Rob and Kristen Bell, with their substantial influence as well, will be mere footnotes in this age of compromise and apostasy, marked as eternally irrelevant by the only One whose opinion matters.
That’s why I pray for their repentance today.
I don’t know how you read books, but when I start into a new book I try to ascertain, as quickly as possible, what is the point? Yep, that’s all folks…. I want to know why did the author write this book? And, I want to know why…. fast!
I want to microwave my book – cook it fast! What can I say…. I am an American.
Usually one can find a purpose statement tucked in the introduction. I hunt for that statement, sentence, or even a few sentences where the author lets us in on the reason he has spent countless, frustrating hours researching, writing, and laboring to bring all that work to a finish and into our lives.
And hey, I am just like you….. I am busy! I need to know – and quick – is this book worth the time?
Me: Why did you write this book?
Author: Here is why I wrote this and where this book is headed.
Me: Thank you for letting me know if I should put the book down and forget it or journey on with the author.
(By the way – some authors already have credibility and I pre-order the book knowing…. it will be worth my time and effort. More on that later.)
I have a weird relationship with the author. I consider him / her my friend. Yep, weird right?!? . But, I like to think of the book I have in front of me as a conversation.
Grab a coffee, grab my friend off the shelf and let’s chat. And when I think this way, I get to do coffee with Charles Spurgeon, or a theology with Edwards, fantasy with Lewis or Tolkien. And, while I love to sit down with these friends! It is hit or miss sometimes to do so on any given day.
BUT – my every day goal and desire is to sit down with my Creator, Savior, Father, God!
Wow, are you kidding me?!? When I (when you) sit down to read the Bible, you are reading GOD’S WORD. You are sitting down with….. Almighty God! Coffee nearby, pen in hand – God is right there with me/ you!
Back to where this post started.
The point of the Bible – from start to finish – is to lay out for us God’s plan for Redemption.
Here is a quick overview of the Bible.
- God Creates…. Everything…. out of nothing!
- His creation includes mankind.
- Man, the created – rebels against the Creator.
- As a result, man is now separated from the Creator.
- The rest of the story line of Gods Word is HOW God Redeems (or removes the separation) between God and man.
We could say – the point of the whole Bible – is about: Redemption. How will the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each work to bring about redemption of fallen man?
The Father Sends
The Son takes on human flesh and goes to the cross for our sins! (Phil 2)
The Spirit quickens our hearts.
God’s Word in a nutshell. Redemption. The purpose of the Word of God, the purpose for our lives, and the reason the believer does not put the book down or ignore the glory it reveals.
The gospel is the Bible’s main message, and preaching the content of the Bible—that is, the prophetic anticipation of God’s redemptive purpose in Christ from the Old Testament and the apostolic witness to the accomplished work of Christ in the New Testament—unleashes the power of the gospel message and achieves its God-ordained end.
Bullmore, Mike (2011-08-02). The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible (The Gospel Coalition Booklets) (Kindle Locations 88-90). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
From start to finish, the consistent thread throughout the Word of God is REDEMPTION.
Everything prior to Jesus, looks forward to Jesus. Everything post Jesus, looks back to Jesus.
Listen in on how John gives us the purpose statement for the gospel of John.
“so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
How will sinful man be made right with God?
Well, therein lies the point of the whole book. Jesus Christ is the Author AND He is the Answer! He is the point. He is the reason we have a Bible and need a Bible. And friend, He is WORTH OUR TIME! That is right, He is WORTH it. Worth my / your time! Worth the effort.
So, take up the book this year in 2015. Grab a coffee and pen. And get to know the Author and The Point of the whole book!
“You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Pet. 1:23–25).
The Bible – What is it?
- Instruction manual?
- Helpful tips on good living?
- List of commandments
- Book of good moralisms?
- Little helps for one’s life?
- Word of God?
- A “prop” to support your thoughts and opinions?
- A “shotgun” to destroy other’s thoughts and opinions?
How you answer that question is everything!
Your answer will likely determine if you will read the Bible or toss it aside. And, if you do read the Bible, then your answer will determine how you will read the Bible.
It is one thing:
- …..to affirm and acknowledge the Word of God (mentally), it is quite another thing to see it as ones authority and thus submit to it (functionally) in all areas of life.
- …..to say I love Gods Word and then not submit ones life to it.
- …..to read the Bible, memorize a scripture or two, or hear the Word preached, it is quite another thing to seek to apply that word that you have read, memorized or heard preached.
At the end of the day, we all have to ask ourselves: “what do we believe about this book?” Is it the very Word of God? If so…. what does that mean in how we approach it or if we approach it.
Did you know……?
According to Jesus, it is the difference between a fool and a wise man.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
(Matthew 7:24-27 ESV)
The Bible (God’s Word) No Other Book Like It! It is God’s Word. How amazing is it that the Creator of the universe has given us His Word. He is not a God in hiding. We have His Word because He wants us to know Him.
He is a God who wants to be known!
Amazing – we can know the Almighty God!! Reading God’s Word is not a duty to be performed, it is a joy to pursue. It is in God’s Word that we come to know God – as He is – as He makes Himself known to us on every page.
I don’t know about you… but, I don’t want a God who I conjure up. A God who is made up in my mind and in my image. I want to know the living God – As He is – I want to know Him. Friend, if that is the cry of your heart there is no better place to go than the Word of God.
“The evangelist or the preacher opens his mouth and utters a word, God’s Word. But the Word doesn’t sound just once. It echoes or reverberates. It reverberates through the church’s music and prayers. It reverberates through the conversations between elders and members, members and guests, older Christians and younger ones. God’s words bounce around the life of the church, like the metal ball in a pinball machine.” Jonathan Leeman Reverberation
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
It is beautiful isn’t it? God’s Word is exhorting us to come thirsty and come broke. Isn’t that the gospel? It is exactly how we come to God. We do not come to Him with full bellies and fat pockets. We are destitute.
- No food
- No money and
- No way to purchase or eat in our own strength.
Reminds me of this:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Don’t you love how the Word instructs us in our broken state to come and buy and eat.
We might ask: How do we do that?
That, my friend, is the whole point of God’s Word.
You can’t do that in and of yourself! But, you can do that when you look away from our own self’s ability to save. We need a Savior! And we are not it! Remember: we are hungry and broke.
It is in Jesus that we come to God and when we do, the hungry are filled and the broke are made rich in Christ.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and you labor for that which does not satisfy?
Isn’t that what we do in our sinfulness?
We foolishly buy that which does not feed us and that which does not satisfy.
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
God’s Word / The Gospel / The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Will you join with me and pray this today?
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.
I am so glad this is true.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
God sends His Word to accomplish His eternal purpose.
What is that purpose?
To redeem fallen man!
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
(Isaiah 55 ESV)
The below is taken in its entirety from Albertmohler.com.
Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin
MONDAY • December 29, 2014
Newsweek magazine decided to greet the start of 2015 with a massive cover story on the Bible. For decades now, major news magazines have tended to feature cover articles timed for Christmas and Easter, taking an opportunity to consider some major question about Christianity and the modern world. Leading the journalistic pack for years, both TIME and Newsweek dedicated cover article after article, following a rather predictable format. In the main, scholars or leaders from very liberal quarters commented side-by-side those committed to historic Christianity on questions ranging from the virgin birth to the resurrection of Christ.
When written by journalists like Newsweek‘s former editor Jon Meacham or TIME reporters such as David Van Biema, the articles were often balanced and genuinely insightful. Meacham and Van Biema knew the difference between theological liberals and theological conservatives and they were determined to let both sides speak. I was interviewed several times by both writers, along with others from both magazines. I may not have liked the final version of the article in some cases, but I was treated fairly and with journalistic integrity.
So, when Newsweek, now back in print under new ownership, let loose its first issue of the New Year on the Bible, I held out the hope that the article would be fair, journalistically credible, and interesting, even if written from a more liberal perspective.
But Newsweek‘s cover story is nothing of the sort. It is an irresponsible screed of post-Christian invective leveled against the Bible and, even more to the point, against evangelical Christianity. It is one of the most irresponsible articles ever to appear in a journalistic guise.
The author of the massive essay is Kurt Eichenwald, who boasts an impressive reputation as a writer and reporter for newspapers like The New York Times and magazines including Vanity Fair. A two-time winner of the George Polk Award, he was also a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Eichenwald, however, has been primarily known for reporting and writing in a very different area of expertise. Most of his writing has been on business and financial matters, including business scandals.
When it comes to Newsweek‘s cover story, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” Eichenwald appears to be far outside his area of expertise and knowledge. More to the point, he really does not address the subject of the Bible like a reporter at all. His article is a hit-piece that lacks any journalistic balance or credibility. His only sources cited within the article are from severe critics of evangelical Christianity, and he does not even represent some of them accurately.
The opening two paragraph of the article sets the stage for what follows:
“They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.
They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.”
What is really going on here? Did some fundamentalist preacher run over young Kurt Eichenwald’s pet hamster when the reporter was just a boy? He opens with the most crude caricature of evangelical Christians — one unrecognizable in the vast majority of evangelical churches, and even to credible journalists. But the opening lines are truly a foretaste of what follows.
Amazingly, Eichenwald claims some stance of objectivity. “Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning is not intended to advance a particular theology or debate the existence of God,” Eichenwald insists. “Rather, it is designed to shine a light on a book that has been abused by people who claim to revere it but don’t read it, in the process creating misery for others.”
But Eichenwald demonstrates absolutely no attempt to understand traditional Christian understandings of the Bible, nor ever to have spoken with the people he asserts “claim to revere [the Bible] but don’t read it.” What follows is a reckless rant against the Bible and Christians who claim to base their faith upon its teachings.
In a predictable move, Eichenwald claims to base his research on “works of scores of theologians and scholars, some of which dates back centuries.” But the sources he cites are from the far, far left of biblical studies and the most significant living source appears to be University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman, who is post-Christian. Even so, he makes claims that go far beyond even what Bart Ehrman has claimed in print.
Eichenwald’s first claim is that we cannot really read the Bible, for it does not actually exist and never has. “No television preacher has ever read the Bible,” he asserts. “Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”
No knowledgeable evangelical claims that the Bibles we read in English are anything other than translations. But it is just wrong and reckless to claim that today’s best translations are merely “a translation of translations of translations.” That just isn’t so — not even close. Eichenwald writes as if textual criticism is a recent development and as if Christian scholars have not been practicing it for centuries. He also grossly exaggerates the time between the writing of the New Testament documents and the establishment of a functional canon. He tells of the process of copying manuscripts by hand over centuries as if that seals some argument about textual reliability, wrongly suggesting that many, if not most, of the ancient Christian scribes were illiterate. He writes accurately of the Greek used in the New Testament, and then makes an argument that could only impress a ten year old:
“These manuscripts were originally written in Koiné, or ‘common’ Greek, and not all of the amateur copyists spoke the language or were even fully literate. Some copied the script without understanding the words. And Koiné was written in what is known as scriptio continua—meaning no spaces between words and no punctuation. So, a sentence like weshouldgoeatmom could be interpreted as ‘We should go eat, Mom,’ or ‘We should go eat Mom.’ Sentences can have different meaning depending on where the spaces are placed. For example, godisnowhere could be ‘God is now here’ or ‘God is nowhere.’”
Isn’t that clever! But there is no text in the Bible in which this is truly a problem. Context determines the meaning, and no mom is in any danger of being eaten due to confused punctuation. That might impress a fifth-grade class, but not any serious reader. Later in his essay he makes essentially the same argument when he deals with the Greek word translated as worship when the text refers to deity. He rightly points out that translators use other terms when the context is merely human. Yes, the same word is used, but not in the same sense. This is not a translator’s sleight of hand, but common sense. Similarly, when a British nobleman is addressed as “Your Lordship” in public, this does not mean that he is being worshiped in the same sense as when a Christian speaks of the lordship of Christ. Common sense indicates that the same word has a different meaning in a different context.
Eichenwald grossly over-estimates the total number of ancient New Testament manuscripts and he seems to believe that mainstream Christianity in the Patristic era might have been seriously confused about the legitimacy of the so-called Gnostic gospels and other heretical writings. He cited Bart Ehrman as saying,“There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament,” but then he follows that with his own concession: “Most of those discrepancies are little more than the handwritten equivalent of a typo, but that error was then included by future scribes.” So there are many variations, but most are “little more than the handwritten equivalent of a typo?” Then, why is the point even important?
He turns to text critical questions related to the long ending of Mark’s Gospel (16:17-18) and the account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John’s Gospel. These questions would not trouble any first-year seminarian in an evangelical seminary, but they are presented in the article as blockbuster discoveries. Furthermore, with reference to the woman caught in adultery, Eichenwald states: “Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages.” But the fact that the account is not found in the older manuscripts of the Gospel of John does not mean, in any credible sense, that scribes simply made it up in the Middle Ages. Eichenwald seems unaware of the very category of oral tradition.
He also presents a twisted version of Emperor Constantine’s influence in Christian history, getting right the fact that Constantine called and influenced the Council of Nicaea but getting facts wrong when he claimed that Constantine influenced the formation of the New Testament canon by determining which books were to be included. His accusation of political intrigue by Constantine on the question of Christ’s deity appears, within the totality of Eichenwald’s essay, as a pointer to a strange antipathy to the doctrine of the Trinity itself. He argues that the Trinity is never defined in a singular verse of Scripture — orthodox Christians do not claim that any single text does — but he ignores the development of the doctrine of the Trinity drawn from the totality of the New Testament itself.
Eichenwald’s opening sentences trumpeted his disdain for evangelical Christianity’s sexual ethic, and his essay turns to deny that Christians have any textual basis for a negative view of homosexuality. He dismisses 1 Timothy as being falsely claimed to be written by the Apostle Paul, citing, oddly enough, Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of modern theological liberalism, who made that argument in 1807. There is no counter-argument offered. Eichenwald simply credits the “scholars” he cites without any admission that other scholars hold very different opinions. Interestingly, he appears unable to deny that Paul wrote Romans and that Romans 1:27 identifies men lusting after other men as sinful.
He seems to believe that the teachings about women teaching and leading in 1 Timothy would apply to a woman in political office, failing to read that the text is clearly speaking of order within the Christian assembly. He seems totally unaware of any distinction between the moral law in the Old Testament and the ceremonial law and the holiness code.
In the main, he argues that historic Christianity has been based on nothing but a lie and that those who now represent themselves as biblical Christians are lying to themselves and to others — and doing great harm in the process.
But Kurt Eichenwald’s essay is not ground-breaking in any sense. These arguments have been around for centuries in some form. He mixes serious points of argument with caricatures and cartoons and he does exactly what he accuses Christians of doing — he picks his “facts” and arguments for deliberate effect.
Newsweek’s cover story is exactly what happens when a writer fueled by open antipathy to evangelical Christianity tries to throw every argument he can think of against the Bible and its authority. To put the matter plainly, no honest historian would recognize the portrait of Christian history presented in this essay as accurate and no credible journalist would recognize this screed as balanced.
Oddly enough, Kurt Eichenwald’s attack on evangelical Christianity would likely be a measure more effective had he left out the personal invective that opens his essay and appears pervasively. He has an axe to grind, and grind he does.
But the authority of the Bible is not the victim of the grinding. To the contrary, this article is likely to do far more damage to Newsweek in its sad new reality. Kurt Eichenwald probably has little to lose among his friends at Vanity Fair, but this article is nothing less than an embarrassment.
To take advantage of Newsweek’s title — it so misrepresents the truth, it’s a sin.
To read the Newsweek article in full, click: HERE
God’s Word is…. well God’s Word and because it is, we would do well to read it with a set of convictions. Below are 6 of those convictions. Certainly, there are more. Feel free to comment below on convictions you have when you are sitting down to read the very Words of God.
1.) It is GOD’S Word
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)
Scripture is the God breathed out Word of God.
What does that matter?
Well, if this is our conviction it will affect how we approach or even if we will approach God’s Word.
When this is our conviction we will approach God’s Word not seeking to impose my thoughts and will on it. Rather, our desire is that the Word brings to us the thoughts and will of God for our lives.
If it is God’s Words than it is my Authority! While my thoughts can tend to be shifty, God’s Word remains. It is objective and unchanging! Shifty people need an anchor for the soul!
Consider: Without this initial conviction:
What do you have?
What is the Bible?
How does your view of the Bible affect how you read it?
2.) God’s Word Is Understandable
The Word of God is not veiled. It does not need someone to come along and decipher the code! God intends us to “get it”. He is a revealing God. He is not a code to be cracked – He is the God who reveals Himself on every page. Through His Word He makes known to us, who He is and what He has done for fallen man.
3.) God’s Word Is Useful
2 Timothy 3 (see above) shows us not only that the Word is God breathed, but that it is useful.
…….profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
4.) God’s Word Is Effective
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)
How effective is the Word of God!
5.) God’s Word Should Be Approached In Humility
- Am I the authority or is He?
- Do I Submit to God’s Word or Does the Word submit to me?
- My life vs Gods Word – what must change?
- Feelings vs Truth – subjective vs objective – fleeting vs never-changing
“I’ve heard the story of a man who was in Paris visiting the Louvre. He was particularly interested in seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. After examining the painting for some time with a critical eye, he announced, “I don’t like it.” The guard stationed there replied, “Sir, these paintings are no longer being judged. The viewers are.” It is the same with God’s Word, which is not what is being judged. Its readers are.”
Bullmore, Mike (2011-08-02). The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible (The Gospel Coalition Booklets) (Kindle Locations 163-167). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
6.) God’s Word Is About Christ
The entire Word of God is about God redeeming fallen man. That redemption comes through God the Son, Jesus Christ. As we read the Word with Christ in view, we will see that everything prior to Jesus death anticipates Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. All that we read post Christ’s death looks back to that event. God’s Word is about…. Christ!
For further study check out this easy to read booklet:
The Gospel and Scripture: How To Read The Bible By Mike Bullmore
It has become the phrase I like to recite prior to preaching God’s Word. But, it is more than just a “phrase”. It is truth. And truth has value. I know, truth has lost its value in our culture, but that does not make it any less valuable. My youngest son used to value pennies more than nickels just because he had more of them.
My heart is like a child sometimes with what has real and lasting value.
Prior to preaching, this little phrase brings the truth of God’s Word before me. And as it sits before me, and I trust before the people of Trinity Community Church, it instructs my / our faith as I seek to preach God’s amazing, eternal, Word.
The grass withers, the flowers fade, BUT the Word of the Lord remains FOREVER!
Here is that text in its wider context.
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said,“What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty[d] is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
The rest of Isaiah 40 is….. well…. amazing! But, for now, for today – consider: all that is around you is withering and fading and yet God’s Word is forever.
That truth sure puts the “stuff” of this world in its rightful place. The things we value, the stuff our hearts crave, and all the that we desire…. fading and withering.
God, help me to put my heart and my faith on that which does not fade or wither!
The grass withers,
The flower fades,
But the Word of the Lord remains forever
I have a friend that likes to ask people who visit the church I belong to (Trinity CC): What are you looking for in a church? Whether we realize it or not we all have an answer to that question. We might not even be looking for a church, and yet, we still have an answer to that question.
- trendy music
- a cool worship leader with a “tight” band
- high octane youth group
- a children’s program that competes with Nickelodeon
- the look of the building
- convenient parking
- a relevant pastor
- Small – home groups
- non charismatic
- dynamic preaching
- and on and on and on it goes.
Jonathan Leeman, in his outstanding book Reverberation says: “Are any of these things bad? Not at all. Most are fine or even good. The question is, Where are we placing our confidence?”
I want to re-iterate what J. Leeman said – these are not bad things! Who doesn’t want relevant sermons, or a good band?!? BUT…..Where are we placing our confidence?
It seems to me that the church today is placing less and less of its confidence where we ought……in the Word of God. The result of a misplaced confidence is concerning.
4 things to look for in a church:
1.) Does the Word of God drive the church in all of its ministries?
The Word of God must be central to all the church does. The Word must drive. This is much more than just reading scripture or preaching from a passage of the Bible. It is the DNA of the church that hungers for the Word and gladly submits to God’s Word. So, what is driving the church? What or who is in the drivers seat?
2.) Due to the above, does the church have a conviction about preaching God’s Word?
We are in and seem to be headed for difficult days! Does your church preach God’s Word, without apology, and with conviction? If God’s Word is our confidence, then we should not be shy in our preaching and proclamation of it! The goal is not to be politically correct, the goal is to be biblically correct.
Pastors, the most loving thing you can do for your congregation is to preach the Word.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)
3.) Is the church God centered or man centered?
Who is at the center? You? Me? A pastor? Dynamic youth leader? a hard working deacon? or a long term member? When we make the church to be primarily about man, we miss out on the very reason we exist as a church. Why does the church exist? We exist, first and foremost, for the worship of God! ALL else falls into place UNDER this ultimate and primary purpose.
Have you noticed the Word of God is….. a God centered book?
4.) Does the church have a gospel culture?
What is a “gospel culture”?
It is one thing to “know” about the gospel. Anyone can know the gospel factually. One can even share the gospel with others. BUT, is the gospel functioning in the life of the church? Does the gospel permeate down into all the ministries of the church? The gospel is the focal point of the Word of God, oh that it would be the focal point of the church!
To read further about what the gospel is click here.
I hope you have found a good church where you love to worship God! There is no perfect church! The church I have the privilege of pastoring is always seeking to grow and is always needing to grow in the above! We have NOT arrived, no church has!
If you are lacking in conviction about these 4 questions above, pray, and ask God to help you to grow.
Or, if you do have a conviction, and you see ways in which your church is lacking in the above….. Get involved! God has given you a passion for the above for a reason. Get involved and help your church to grow in the 4 areas listed above.
Is there more than these 4 things to look for in a church? Sure. But, I hope these are at the core of your heart if you are currently looking for a church to call home.
A few weeks ago I enjoyed a coffee with my friend Sandy Robertson. He is a Pastor at New Covenant Church which is a church in the same town I pastor. Titusville, Fl. While we were chatting he said something I had heard many times before. But, you know that moment when the Spirit of God quickens you and you hear something you have heard before and yet it is as if you heard for the first time.
He said: “You know there is a reason why He is called the HOLY Spirit.”
That was it…. that simple…. and yet, so profound and true. It grabbed my heart. I hope it grabs yours today.
Why is the Spirit called the Holy Spirit?
1.) HOLY Spirit and HOLY Scripture
The word holy in the bible means to be set apart, consecrated, and blameless. The Bible is a Holy Bible. It is a “set apart” book – no other book like it on the face of the earth. And, the Spirit is not just any spirit – He is the Holy Spirit.
You say…. ok – so what?
I am amazed at how a believer will attest to the above few sentences and turn around and knowingly and blatantly do the opposite of what scripture says and then…. pull the Spirit in the ditch with them by saying: “I prayed about it and I feel lead this is what God (The Spirit) would have me to do.”
Nope…. The HOLY Spirit will NEVER lead you to do anything contrary to the HOLY Bible. The Holy Spirit ALWAYS, ALWAYS leads us to do what we find in Scripture.
Christian, let’s stop this nonsense of dragging the Spirit into our UN-holy living. Take up the Word of God, ask the Spirit of God to illuminate His Word, and follow Him.
2.) The Holy Spirit and salvation
It is the work of the Holy Spirit, in our lives, that brings us from death to life. See previous post: Trinity (12). It is the Spirit that makes us alive to the work of Christ (In His life, death, and resurrection.)
3.) The Holy Spirit and sanctification
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)
- Have you come to a place of faith in Jesus Christ?
- Do you desire to grow in Godliness?
- Do you find yourself repenting of sin and seeking to pursue righteousness?
- Have you ever pursued a friend for accountability to help you overcome an area of sin?
- Have you ever had the thought: I want to pray more or spend more time reading God’s Word?
- Have you experienced conviction while reading Scripture, hearing the Word preached, or…….?
If you answered “yes” to these questions then Praise God and specifically Praise the Holy Spirit. Just as the Father and Son play a specific role in your salvation and your life as a Christian, so does the Holy Spirit.
He is day by day, moment by moment, growing you in Christ Jesus.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)